HOUSTON — Quentin Grimes had 20 points and eight rebounds, and No. 6 Houston used a big first half to roll past Cincinnati 90-52 on Sunday.
Tramon Mark scored 12 points, DeJon Jarreau added 11 points and five rebounds, and Fabian White Jr. had 10 points and nine rebounds for Houston (18-3, 12-3 American Athletic Conference). The Cougars shot 47% and hit 19 of 21 from the free throw line.
“Coach (Kelvin) Sampson told me and Marcus (Sasser) he wants us to be ultra-aggressive from the tip all game,” Grimes said. “He told us we play best with DeJon pushing the pace looking for us and me and Marcus in attack mode. It gets the whole team in the flow.”
The Cougars forced Cincinnati into 13 turnovers, which Houston converted into 22 points.
The margin of victory was the largest for either team in the series, besting a 115-78 win by the Bearcats in Dec. 1998. Cincinnati leads the series with Houston 34-6.
Houston entered 2-2 in its previous four games and fell to Wichita State 68-63 on Thursday.
“All respect to (Cincinnati coach) John (Brannen) and his program, but this game was about us,” Sampson said. “When you play 25, 30, 40 games, you’re going to have games where you just don’t play good. We know that. … Tonight, our intensity level and how hard we play, it was good to see us get back to that level.”
Jeremiah Davenport scored 11 points and Tari Eason added 10 points for the Bearcats (7-8, 5-5), who saw their four-game winning streak snapped. Cincinnati shot 30%.
“Bottom line is when you play a team that’s national championship good – really, really talented that (Sampson)’s built over seven years – you can’t make mistakes,” Brannen said. “They took advantage of every one of them. It was an uphill battle pretty much after the eight-minute mark of the first half.”
Houston outscored the Bearcats 32-7 over the final 11 minutes of the first half to take a 50-26 lead at the break. Jarreau scored nine points and Mark had eight in the half-ending run.
The Cougars shot 9 of 18 from the field and hit 13 of 13 from the free-throw line during that stretch, while Cincinnati was 2 of 15 from the field and did not have a field goal over the final five minutes of the half.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats played tough for the first eight minutes and held a 19-18 lead behind 6-of-10 shooting but went cold from the floor. … Cincinnati allowed a season high in points while scoring a season low.
“I was disappointed by getting boat-raced,” Brannen said. “I was disappointed that we took it on the chin like that. I am disappointed that we didn’t compete a little more defensively like we have been competing.”
Houston: The Cougars extended their home winning streak to 22 games. … Houston won the rebounding battle, 47-31, and held a 16-2 advantage in second-chance points. The Cougars also had a 40-16 advantage in points in the paint and 20-6 edge in fast-break points.
NO LOSING STREAKS
Houston has not lost consecutive games since March 10-15, 2017, against UConn and Akron.
“We know that if we lose, we come in the next day, it’s going to be a pretty tough day on the court, in film,” Grimes said. “You know when you come into that game you have to be on your Ps and Qs at all times because you don’t want to have another day that happens when you lose.”
Cincinnati: Travels to Tulsa on Wednesday.
Houston: Sampson said the Cougars will likely add a game on Thursday. If not, their next game is Feb. 28, at home against South Florida.