NCAAB Game Recap - Houston at East Carolina
Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:00 PM EST

Baylor
67
IaSt
53
F
SDSU
85
NM
57
F
Lou
86
BC
69
F
Dayt
73
Duques
69
F
DeP
57
Seton
64
F
WVU
81
TxTch
89
F
Vand
62
KY
71
F
NW
50
MSU
79
F
Hou
69
ECU
59
F
Alab
76
LSU
90
F
Ind
49
PSU
64
F
Buck
59
Army
68
F
Mercer
71
ETSU
55
F
Temp
63
UConn
78
F
Mem
59
UCF
57
F
Wake
80
ND
90
F
David
104
GrgWas
107
F(4OT)
MOSt
66
NrthIA
95
F
Valpa
69
Brad
80
F
Stony
84
UMassL
76
F
UNCG
72
WCU
58
F
Monm
63
StPet
66
F
Vermt
56
UNH
43
F
HolyC
66
Navy
81
F
Albany
67
UMBC
63
F
StJos
76
UMass
91
F
Drake
56
IndSt
58
F
Bingha
57
Hartfo
73
F
VMI
72
Furm
74
F(OT)
StBon
62
Ford
55
F(OT)
Woff
79
Citad
56
F
Lafy
80
Colg
78
F
LoyMD
77
Boston
92
F
Chat
92
Samf
84
F
TXAMC
61
SamH
80
F
Nich
74
McNee
80
F(OT)
SoFL
66
Tul
52
F
Tex
62
TCU
61
F
Okla
53
KansSt
61
F
SeLA
68
CenAR
88
F
LoyIL
63
SIU
68
F
SDSt
76
Oral
61
F
NWSt
82
NOrl
74
F
Evans
66
IlSt
77
F
InWor
84
HBU
82
F
StLou
77
LaSal
76
F(OT)
AbCh
61
SFA
71
F
SCar
79
Ark
77
F
Marq
84
Xav
82
F(2OT)
CBU
65
UtVal
61
F
Nev
91
ColSt
92
F
SJSU
71
Bois
99
F
AzSt
65
WaSt
67
F

Jan 29, 2020, 7:00 PM EST

Final

1

2

T

(21) Houston (17-4)

33

36

69

East Carolina (9-12)

21

38

59

Mills, Grimes help No. 21 Houston beat East Carolina 69-59
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:52 PM

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Houston coach Kelvin Sampson had just watched his 21st-ranked Cougars grind through a road win when he ran across East Carolina's Jayden Gardner in the hallway outside his postgame news conference.

The veteran coach couldn't hold back his praise for an opponent who made things difficult on his young team, even after Houston had led by double figures much of the night in a 69-59 win.

"You've got a big heart and you're a warrior, man," Sampson told Gardner, patting him on the chest.

The Cougars (17-4, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) won for the 15th time in 17 games Wednesday night, though they struggled all night to slow the 6-foot-7 sophomore and AAC-leading scorer. Gardner finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds.

"We played against a lot of teams, but Gardner's the best player we've played against," Sampson said. "We've played against nobody that is more difficult because you don't know who to put on him.

"We came in with a brilliant game plan, we threw that out of the window in three minutes. That one didn't work. We said, 'Well OK, let's go to this.' That one didn't work either. He's tough."

While Gardner got little help from his teammates, Houston showed some of the balance that has put it atop the AAC standings.

Houston came in with five players averaging between 9.8 and 12.9 points, then got 18 points, five rebounds and a season-high six assists from redshirt freshman Caleb Mills. Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes added 15 points, while Chris Harris Jr. had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Compare that to the Pirates (9-12, 3-5). Gardner finished with one fewer point than the rest of his teammates, who made 8 of 39 shots (20.5%). And Houston made its move when the Pirates got away from feeding Gardner late in the first half after he had scored 16 points, building a 33-21 lead by the break and never letting ECU closer than eight again.

East Carolina finished the game shooting 33%, including 4 of 23 from 3-point range and 17 of 26 from the foul line (65%).

"I think one of the things when you play Houston is they're not going to help you, so you have to help yourself because they don't give you anything," Pirates coach Joe Dooley said. "I thought some of the things we needed to do, we did. Some of the things we needed to probably help ourselves, we didn't."

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars came in shooting 41% in league play, including 29% from behind the arc. They didn't do anything to change those numbers Wednesday, shooting 39% and making 5 of 16 3-pointers. More surprising, Houston finished even on the boards (43-all) despite entering the game as the national leader in rebounding margin (10.7). Still, the Cougars beat the Pirates for the ninth straight time after entering the day tied with Tulsa atop the league standings.

"It"s a road win, it's hard to win on the road," Mills said, "but it's not the way we want to win. We want to outrebound, we want to dominate . That's not what we did tonight."

ECU: Gardner has been terrific for the Pirates. He came into the day ranked 13th nationally in scoring and was averaging nearly five full points more than the AAC's No. 2 scorer (Tulane's Teshaun Hightower at 16.1 points). But Gardner's teammates did little to back him up with the Pirates having the chance to match their win total for all of last season.

"We do need to help him more," Dooley said.

SMALLER MARGIN

The Cougars won 99-65 here at Minges Coliseum last February in a game that featured multiple technical fouls and ejections - including for Dooley - and a home crowd so irked by officiating that some fans threw trash toward the court.

There were no ugly moments this time. And ECU showed some grit, fighting back from 21 down to within nine in the final minute.

"We're a better team, we compete, we play hard," Gardner said, adding: "We've just got to keep getting older and keep getting mature and keep going through these games."

UP NEXT

Houston: The Cougars visit Cincinnati on Saturday.

ECU: The Pirates visit Temple on Saturday.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Leaders

Houston PTS +/- AST REB ST BLK
M. Sasser 0 0 0 1 0 1
C. Mills 18 0 6 5 0 0
East Carolina PTS +/- AST REB ST BLK
B. Baruti 0 0 0 4 0 0
L. Curtis 0 0 0 0 0 0

Team Comparison

Hou ECU
Points For 69 59
Field Goals 22/56-39% 19/58-33%
Three Pointers 5/16-31% 4/23-17%
Free Throws 20/32-62% 17/26-65%
Offensive Rebounds 11 12
Defensive Rebounds 32 31
Rebounds 47 49
Blocks 6 1
Steals 3 4
Turnovers 10 8
Personal Fouls 24 25
Technical Fouls 0 0
Ejections 0 0

2019-2020 Regular Season - Hou Leads Series 1-0

Date Result Away Pts Ldr Home Pts Ldr
Wed Jan 29 Hou 69 @ ECU 59 J. Gorham 1 T. Robinson-White 4

Game Information

Stadium: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, Greenville, North Carolina
Attendance: 4,406
Game Time: