Houston fell at UConn on Thursday night, 77-71. The Huskies won their last home game in the AAC and deal UH another road loss (1-4 in the last 5 away from Fertitta).
After hitting two early shots, the Cougars missed the next 11 in a row as UConn went on a 16-0 run. But after the under-12 timeout in the first half, the Cougars outscored the Huskies 32-14 and took a seven-point halftime lead. UH hit their last seven shots of the half, including three 3-pointers.
But the Coogs came out and looked completely different in the second half. After an early bucket, UH shooters went ice cold for virtually the entire half. Freshmen Marcus Sasser and Caleb Mills both struggled mightily, combining to shoot 1/14 in the second half. Sasser was off the entire night and scored just two points.
Quentin Grimes scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half while Mills finished with 20. DeJon Jarreau had another of his puzzling games: he ended up with 5 points and 5 turnovers before fouling out with 5:49 left.
When teams have pressured the ball on the perimeter this year, the Cougars have … well, whatever synonym for “struggled” you want to use. They don’t see the passing lanes to get the ball inside, and when they do, the guards tend to finger roll or try impossible shots. Tonight, that’s how UH ended up an abysmal 10/23 (43.5%) on lay-up attempts.
In fact, in the last two road games, UH is 15/38 (39.5%) at the rim while those opponents, Memphis and UConn, shot 28/45 (62.2%). Thirteen less made shots at the rim have been devastating.
To compare, in all other games this year, UH shoots 63% at the hole.
Some may argue that the difference in the game was free throws. True, UConn attempted 23 more FTs but that’s in large part due to the type of shots the Coogs were getting off. And hitting: for 18 minutes in the second half, UH sank just five of 28 shots.
Twenty of the 28 shots were jumpers or three-pointers (2/11 on jumpers, 0/9 on 3-pt shots) and the Coogs went just 3/8 on layups. If you combine that with the seven-minute shooting slump in the first half (2/15), that’s over 60% of the game shooting right at 16%.
That’s a lot of missed shots.
You can’t do that, and especially for almost the entire second half, and have any expectation of winning on the road. And you can’t expect to get to the line, either.
The Cougars fly back tonight to get ready for the regular-season final against Memphis on Sunday morning. UH alum Jim Nantz will be back to call his first Cougar game in nearly 40 years.