Shead shines bright while Tranquil Brown fades to black


The Houston Cougars overcame a rash of banged-up players and a sluggish offense to beat Oklahoma State, 72-61, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. The Coogs clamped down in the final 16 minutes, outscoring the Cowboys 37-25. UH point guard Jamal Shead led all scorers with 18 points, and he had more assists (8) than the entire Oklahoma State roster (7). Fabian White had a double-double: 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Cougars focused their defensive effort on guards Avery Anderson III and Bryce Williams. That duo combined to score 58 points Monday against Cleveland State on 21/34 (61.8%) shooting. But with UH’s Marcus Sasser and Shead hounding them, they combined to go just 5/22 (22.7%) from the floor.

Williams finished with 17 points, with 12 coming from the free-throw line.

The win lifts UH to a 10-2 record and keeps them top-five in the major rating systems (KenPom, ESPN BPI, BartTorvik, NCAA NET).

Houston had a few surprises on Wednesday’s national signing day. But no one that UH signed would be as surprising as Tranquil Brown. Brown is a four-star athlete from Baton Rouge and runs a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. UH offered him in football and basketball, one of the most unlikely feats in college sports.

Speed is the reason that the 2023 graduate of CGHS has offers from Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, and LSU to go along with his dual offer from Houston. Brown will be able to command millions from NIL deals with his raw athleticism.

Just one problem: he doesn’t exist. Tranquil Brown is a lie. There are no offers from the Vols, Horns, Wolverines, Tigers, or Cougars. Someone, for some reason, made up Tranquil Brown as part of an elaborate ruse.

The grift first came to our attention a few hours after he announced the UH offer(s) on Saturday afternoon. We decided to check him out. Tranquil Brown did not appear in the 24/7 recruiting database. Or in the Rivals database. Or On3. Or MaxPreps. Or HUDL. And he had no social media presence other than Twitter. So we started looking at his Twitter feed and noticed that he just started his account this month (he claims he’d been hacked).

But then we found his best friend also started his account this month. And so did his dad. And his girlfriend. And his assistant coach. And his school. And his school’s principal. And the reporter that was propping him up. And through reverse image search, his profile photo can be traced back to at least 2017.

The school’s purported website – – has never existed. And what school system has a .com URL? Nevertheless, several journalists, Twitter blue checkmarks, a few UH staffers, and numerous college football bloggers fell for the hoax.

Besides being a fake recruit, Tranquil Brown is the shade of a lipstick, a small $1300 painting, and 65 seconds of noise to help babies sleep.

Beginning with 3:30 left in the first half, Houston went nearly eight minutes without a point. In real-time, that was over 35 minutes without scoring. Kelvin Sampson must have been a treat to deal with as Oklahoma State went on a 13-0 run.

Looked at another way: the Cougars scored 35 points in the first 16.5 minutes of the game and 37 points in the last 16 minutes. And none during the 7:49 in the middle.

Next year, the Cougar football team will lose nearly 2200 snaps off the offensive line. UH played a six-man rotation that took 98.4% of all snaps this year between them. At least half of those will disappear after the December 28th bowl game. Prep for the game begins this week.

Marcus Sasser is part of a DFW legacy: his uncles Jason and Jeryl starred at Dallas Kimball High School before becoming impact players at Texas Tech and SMU, respectively. Jason is even in the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame. That legacy pushes Sasser when he plays in the Metroplex.

In his seventh game in a Houston uniform in the DFW area (he’s played in 70 games total), Sasser scored 15 points and pulled down six boards Saturday night. He averages 17.0 points per game in the Metroplex compared to 11.5 ppg elsewhere. And Sasser has been playing injured, having suffered a turf toe injury last week (he reinjured it Saturday night).

Sasser’s injury is just a part of UH’s growing depth issue. Taze Moore has dealt with a nagging wrist problem for weeks and has also been sick, which forced him to miss the trip. Reggie Chaney has a hand injury, while Tramon Mark sat out Saturday night with a shoulder problem. To add to it, J’Wan Roberts left the Ok State game early, grabbing his side/hip area. These five guys combined to play 104 of the 200 minutes (5 players x 40 minutes) a week ago in the Alabama game but played just 53 minutes Saturday night.

The lack of depth has been alarming since the Alabama game. After getting 61 points off the bench in two games last week, UH reserves scored just six total points in two games this week. Everyone should be available by the Cincinnati game except for Mark, whose timetable for return is unclear.

This foul on Jamal Shead is perhaps the worst call you will see this season:

The whistle blew after the ball clanged off the iron and Williams had flopped around on the floor. His reward for that performance? Three free throws (he made all three).

His punishment? Shead held him to 0-9 shooting for the rest of the night.

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