Three days after falling out of first place in the American Athletic Conference, the Houston Cougars responded by dominating the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats in a 90-52 win on Sunday afternoon.
The No. 6 Cougars (18-3, 12-3 AAC) broke the game open starting at the 11-minute mark of the first half, outscoring the Bearcats 55-11 over a span of 18 minutes and 23 seconds to take a 73-30 lead.
Cincinnati (7-8, 5-5) had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Houston recovered its stingy defensive identity, holding the Bearcats to 30 percent shooting overall (15 of 50) and 23.8 percent (5 of 21) from 3-point range. The Cougars shot 47 percent (31 of 66), 39.1 percent from 3-point range (9 of 23) and were near-perfect from the free throw line (19 of 21).
Quentin Grimes scored 14 of his 20 points and grabbed six of his eight rebounds in the first half as Houston avoided back-to-back losses coming off its defeat against Wichita State on Thursday.
Grimes was one of five Cougars who scored in double figures. Dejon Jarreau scored all 11 of his points in the first half and Tramon Mark had 10 of his 12 points during the first 20 minutes as well. Marcus Sasser also finished with 10 points.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson began emptying his bench after his team’s lead grew as large as 43 points in the second half.
This allowed senior forward Fabian White Jr. to earn some more valuable playing time. White played in his second consecutive game after returning sooner than expected from a right ACL injury. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Houston outrebounded Cincinnati 47-31 and took advantage of 13 Cincinnati turnovers, turning them into 22 points.
Jeremiah Davenport led the Bearcats with 11 points, but top scorers Keith Williams and David DeJulius were held to a combined 14 points.