In front of a sellout crowd of 12,189, the UC Bearcats came back from 15 points down to defeat the Houston Cougars 64-62 at home. Jarron Cumberland led all scorers with 17 points along with 7 assists and 2 blocks. Tre Scott led Houston with 16 points and 4 assists.
Houston strutted into the Fifth Third Center on a 5 game win streak, UC with a 3 game win streak. Someone had to lose and for the majority of this contest it appeared it was going to be the Bearcats. A venomous rivalry right from the opening tip off, the refs had to seperate the teams within 19 seconds. While their were several run ins for the majority of the game, nothing got too out of control. Missed free throws were the story for the entire duration of the game. UC shot an abysmal 19-31 from the line and it appeared it would be their undoing. Houston got off to a hot start and shot 6-13 on 3 pointers during the first half. Nate Hinton had 14 points and Marcus Sasser went 4-4 from downtown. Jarron Cumberland of UC led all Bearcats with 14 points at the half.
While the crowd, was mostly quiet towards the end of the first half, they were awake by the beginning of the 2nd half. UC slowly chipped away at the lead. While they continued to miss free throws for the rest of the contest, they were able to make important defensive stops. In one of the more bizarre ejections in NCAA history, DeJon Jarreau was ejected for biting Keith William's leg during mid half. Little things like this kept UC going and the crowd got rowdier and rowdier. While the game was finally tied in the last 2 minutes, Keith Williams became UC's savior and hit the layup that gave UC the lead for good. Houston's Caleb Mills missed a game tying contested 2 at the buzzer and the Bearcats got a 64-62 victory over a ranked team.
Tre Scott said it' big win for UC and it's going to give them confidence. Also, thought they were the tougher team. On the physicality of Houston, Chris Vogt said it was a struggle to figure them out and was double teamed frequently. However, by the end of the game felt like the team was really coming together. On the fun of the rivalry, Scott said that Houston has grown into a big one and these type of games are the ones you hope to play in. Scott was asked about Jarreau's ejection and said "I ain't ever seen a man bite a sweaty man's leg" which got a loud media room laugh.
With a raspy voice, Coach John Brennan said the Fifth Third Center was an unbelievable environment and that was "darn near the loudest" he'd ever heard. UC's coach also said they were too emotional and didn't handle Houston making shots during the first half. However, in the second half Jarron did an amazing job once UC was able to execute properly.
UC improves to 14-7 and plays next on Thursday at Wichita State (Ranked 23) at 7:00 p.m. EST.