TAMPA, Fla. -- — Quentin Grimes had 29 points and No. 8 Houston beat South Florida 82-65 on Wednesday night, spoiling the Bulls’ first game in 32 days because of coronavirus interruptions.
Tied at 25 at the eight-minute mark, the Cougars (17-2, 11-2 American Athletic) shot 58% in the first half and led 43-35 at halftime.
“We’ve seen Quentin get into these grooves and we know to just let him go,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Our guys know to feed a guy if he’s feeling it. That was fun to watch. It was really good basketball.”
DeJon Jarreau scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half and also had eight assists.
“The key to playing good on the road is point guard play and DeJon was doing a great job of finding Quentin,” Sampson said. “Marcus (Sasser) didn’t shoot well tonight, but he had seven assists and no turnovers.”
Houston pushed the pace in the second half and outscored USF 29-8 in the first 9:18 of the half to take a 72-44 lead. South Florida (7-6, 3-4) got as close at 76-61 with 6:01 remaining, but did not hit another field goal.
“I didn’t think our defense in the first ten minutes was where we needed it to be, but coming out for the second half from tip to 12 minutes we were able to create a lot,” Sampson said. “We wanted to create opportunities and we had 21 fast break points
Justin Gorham added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Cougars.
“We need some practice time to work on our execution and timing on offense,” South Florida coach Brian Gregory said. “Such rapid games, such limited time because of everything being condensed. We’ve got to take 4-5 things from today and emphasize those to work on.”
GET ON THE GOOD FOOT
Grimes had been dealing with an ankle injury over the past couple of games, but said he regained confidence in his health after a couple of good practices.
““It was in the back of (my) mind,” Grimes said. “I like to get lift on my jump shots and I think in the past two days I finally felt like I was back at 100 percent with my ankle.”
MORE SCHEDULE BREAKS COMING?
Sampson said he isn’t sure if Houston will play Memphis on Sunday after the Tigers paused activities Wednesday because of coronavirus concerns.
Gregory said it’s unlikely South Florida will make up all of their league games that were lost in the past month.
“I know the league is trying to make up as many games as they can,” Gregory said. “We have to make sure that everything is safe. And we have to remember that the guys are in school and have academic obligations.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Houston: The Cougars have won 10 out of the past 11 games and continue to look like the class of the American Conference. They hope that a strong finish will lead to a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
South Florida: The Bulls hope to play out the rest of their schedule without interruptions and work to build team chemistry before the conference tournament.
Houston: Hosts Memphis on Sunday.
South Florida: Hosts Tulane on Sunday.
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