NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When seldom-used transfer guard Cameron Tyson pulled up to shoot from behind the 3-point line, players up and down Houston’s bench rose to their feet in anticipation and celebrated wildly as the net billowed from one made shot after another.
Tyson scored a career-high 31 points, hitting a career-best nine 3-pointers, and No. 6 Houston routed Tulane 83-60 on Thursday night.
“Our kids did a great job of finding him and they were reveling in his success,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “They wanted him to just keep shooting. So, just happy for Cam. The kid came here and hadn’t had a lot of opportunities, but he certainly made the most of it tonight.”
Tramon Mark added 16 points and Justin Gorham had 15 rebounds to help Houston (14-1, 9-1 American Athletic Conference) win its seventh straight despite the absence of leading scorer Quintin Grimes, who sprained his ankle in practice this week.
Tyson, a reserve in his first season with Houston since transferring from Idaho, entered the game having played in just seven contests without a start and was averaging three points per game. But he was a 42.9% 3-point shooter at Idaho two seasons ago and wasn’t shy about shooting from deep while receiving his most playing time this season (26 minutes).
Tyson attempted 15 of his 18 shots outside the 3-point line and hit two of three shots from closer in. He also tied a Houston record for 3s in a game.
“It’s something we see every day at practice,” Gorham said. “We know Cam’s a great shooter. We knew when he got his opportunity he was going to make those big 3s. … His time was coming and we’re proud of him for that.”
Jordan Walker scored 16 points and Gabe Watson added 13 points for Tulane (6-5, 1-5). The Green Wave have lost three straight and four of five.
Houston’s Mark, who started for Grimes, was 6 of 12 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.
“That shows how deep we are as a team,” Gorham said. “Tramon played a great game and Cam got what he deserved.”
Gorham eclipsed 10 rebounds in a game for the seventh straight time — the first time a Houston player has done that since 1986 — and Houston outrebounded Tulane 42-38.
“I juts hope that shows that I’m hungry,” Gorham said. “Just attack the glass hard every time the ball is shot.”
Houston: Having topped Tulane by 21 points in their previous meeting earlier this month, the Cougars wasted little time turning the rematch into another mismatch. Houston barely needed more than 10 minutes to take their first 20-point lead, going up 28-8 on Reggie Chaney’s layup just 10:17 into the game. Their lead grew to 30 before halftime. And the Cougars did this without leading scorer Quentin Grimes, who missed the game after spraining his ankle in practice this week.
Tulane: The Green Wave were playing their first game in 12 days and only their second since losing 71-50 at Houston on Jan. 9 because of COVID-19 protocols. With its previous two games having been postponed, Tulane looked rusty, particularly on the offensive end, and that was something it couldn’t afford against the top team in the AAC. The Wave shot 12.5% (4 of 32, including 0-13 from 3) and had five shots blocked in the opening half. Tulane didn’t score its 10th point until 3:11 before halftime.
“You don’t play a top-(6) team in the country with no practice, but we are where we are with this whole COVID thing,” Tulane coach Ron Hunter said. “We had kids who came out of quarantine to today that had not done anything. After the first media (timeout), you could just see it in their eyes.”
Sampson said Grimes will “for sure” be ready to return to action for Houston’s next scheduled game against Southern Methodist this weekend.
He said the sprain occurred on Monday and that Grimes, who averages 17.6 points, participated in shootaround before Thursday night’s game before the Cougars decided not to play him. Not only, did Sampson want to rest his top scorer, but also to give Mark, one of his top reserves, a start and some additional playing time.
Houston: Hosts SMU on Sunday.
Tulane: At Temple on Sunday.
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