HOUSTON — Quentin Grimes scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as No. 11 Houston rallied for a 70-63 win over Wichita State on Wednesday night.
After shooting 1 of 6 from the field in the first half, Grimes was 5 of 11 in the second half, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. He also had nine rebounds.
“We knew in the first half that we came out with a lack of energy,” Grimes said. “I knew in the second half that I needed to assert myself and be in attack mode at all times to make sure to get us going and to make sure we went out there in the second half and got the win.”
Justin Gorham added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and DeJon Jarreau finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Houston (9-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference). Marcus Sasser scored 12 for the Cougars, who shot 38% overall, 46% in the second half.
“That’s two straight games we’ve been really good offensively in the second half,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We scored 45 in the second half. … A lot of our problems in the first half had a lot to do with Wichita State. Give them some credit. Their kids really fought and played hard. Our program has a reputation. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Tyson Etienne had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Dexter Dennis scored 18 points for the Shockers (6-3, 2-1), whose five-game winning streak ended.
“We just couldn’t put it together for 40 minutes and defend in the second half,” Wichita State interim coach Isaac Brown said. “To give up 45 points in the second half, that’s not good basketball.”
The Shockers shot 34%, including 8 of 26 on 3-pointers.
“I think our offense affected our defense,” Brown said. “There’s going to be nights where you can’t make shots.”
After the Shockers opened up a 35-25 lead on two free throws by Dennis with 18:44 remaining, Houston responded with a 16-0 run to take a six-point lead on two free throws by Grimes with 13 minutes left. Grimes had seven points during the surge.
The Shockers got as close as 48-44 on a 3-pointer by Dennis with 8:44 remaining, but the Cougars pulled away with a 12-2 run to open up a 14-point lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Grimes with 5:44 left.
“Our defense was so good in the second half,” Sampson said. “We were really, really good, and we guarded them. Second half was good at both ends. The first half, they were more aggressive than we were.”
Wichita State led 31-25 at the half behind eight points from Etienne.
Wichita State: The Shockers were able to open up the double-digit lead because they took care of the ball, committing three turnovers in the first half, but the Shockers committed four turnovers during Houston’s decisive run and finished with 11.
Houston: The Cougars won their sixth straight against Wichita State. Houston owned a 26-16 advantage in points in the paint and committed 10 turnovers, which the Shockers turned into 16 points.
HE SAID IT
“We always play good defense. That’s why we’re ranked in the top 10 defensive teams in the nation. We just don’t always shoot it good. It may change; it may not. I don’t know. Our goal is not to be great statistically; our goal is to win. We have to find ways to win.” – Sampson.
Wichita State: Hosts Cincinnati on Sunday.
Houston: Hosts Tulane on Saturday.