Houston rolled to an easy 76-43 win over Tulsa at Fertitta Center on Wednesday night. With a six-point halftime lead, the Cougars outscored their AAC rivals by 27 in the second half.
After a bad shooting night Saturday at SMU, Caleb Mills came back in a big way. Mills was 0/6 behind the arc in Dallas but hit 5/9 vs. Tulsa en route to a career-high 27 points. The five three-pointers were also a career-high.
The freshman made 9 shots in all (9/16) and absolutely took over in the second half. He scored 19-straight points for the Cougars: two jumpers, three free-throws, and four three-pointers in a ridiculous shooting performance.
In that stretch, the only shot he missed was a free throw; he was 9/10 when the ball left his hands.
“Freshman hit that wall a little bit,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “They haven’t played basketball this long, this intense, this many games. The youngster over here (Mills) was hitting that wall a little bit. He struggled here lately. I told him at shootaround, he needed to start mixing some makes with his misses.”
As Mills was scoring, Tulsa was not. During his six-minute shooting display, Mills outscored Tulsa 19-8. After Tulsa’s Igbanu hit a bucket to cut the lead to seven at 34-27, Mills went to work. He scored 11 of the next 12 points in the game to break it open, 45-28. Tulsa managed to make just one FT in this exchange – it was the third of a shooting foul off a three-pointer.
After Mills scored his 19th point of the half, Nate Hinton reached in for a steal with 13:39 to play and that’s when tempers started to flare.
Over the next 54 seconds of game time, Tulsa committed 6 fouls including four technicals, which led to the ejections of head coach Frank Haith and guard Elijah Joiner.
Haith received his first technical at 12:52 to go in the game and, after a Brison Gresham foul two seconds later, Haith was ejected with another technical. He made a little history in the process.
Just 5 seconds later, Martins Igbanu traveled and then gave a shove to Fabian White, resulting in a contact technical for Igbanu.
As Tulsa became unhinged, Elijah Joiner ran from across the court to get in on the action. He had to be held back by an official and was assessed an unsportsmanlike flagrant-2 technical foul and was also ejected.
After a review, White was also given an unsportsmanlike technical foul for faking which he clearly did.
White admitted to the fake after the game.
It was nearly 12 minutes from the time Haith received his first technical until the ball was put in play after the five technical fouls despite just seven seconds going off the clock. The Cougars hit 10-straight free throws to grow the lead to 27.
Perhaps the best part of the melee is that if you were getting your news from Tulsa’s official website, you’d have no clue about all the excitement. No mention of the technicals, the ejections, or the way their team imploded.
Tulsa finally scored a bucket with 11 minutes left, halting Houston’s 22-1 run. As you might expect, much of the rest of the game was uneven as both teams had been knocked out of any rhythm they had.
When Mills and Hinton exited the game at the 6:12 mark, the duo led Tulsa 42-38 in scoring.
Hinton set a Fertitta Center record going 10/10 from the line and the Coogs went 21/24 from the line – only Mills missed any shots from the stripe.
Quentin Grimes left the game in the first half with a pelvis injury. Sampson said the injury involved “the covering that goes over the top of” the femoral head. Kelvin, in his own way, called the femoral head “that ball”.
There’s no update on his status but more information is expected later Thursday.
The Cougars held Tulsa to just 21.4% from three-point range. It was the 11th-straight game that UH held an opponent under 32% from three. In the conference, teams are shooting 25.6% against the Coogs from three-point range.
With the win, UH moved up to 26 in the NCAA NET, 14 in KenPom, 15 in BartTorvik, 13 in ESPN BPI, and 13 in Sagarin.