Fifteen minutes away, Kelvin Sampson was watching the University of Houston game against South Carolina on Saturday from his living room.
Two days earlier, the 65-year-old head coach found out he was going to miss the first game of his 32-year career that was part of the coronavirus contact tracing logs after assistant coach and son Kellen Sampson tested positive.
« It was miserable, » said Kelvin Sampson during a video conference after shorthand No.. 10 Cougars put together a rally in the second half to beat South Carolina 77-67. “I’d rather be wrestling with a porcupine than having to do that again.
During the game, Sampson said he hung up 30 times. He snapped at his wife, Karen.
At the Fertitta Center, acting head coach Quannas White, the point guard for Sampson’s Final Four team in Oklahoma, was nervous. Like his boss, White threw his jacket away for the first few minutes of the game. Soon he was loosening his tie.
« I was sweating before the game started, » said White. “I tried to be as comfortable as possible. ”
Two of UH’s top scorers, Marcus Sasser and Caleb Mills, had ankle injuries.
UH (4-0), who climbed into the top 10 national polls earlier this week, took some time to get going in the first half. South Carolina took a seven-point lead as the Cougars went 1:15 for one stretch and almost nine minutes without a field goal. Even so, the Cougars were only between 35 and 31 at halftime.
After a Quentin Grimes 3-pointer, South Carolina ran the full length of the floor before UH was able to get back on the defensive. White called for a time-out, just 72 seconds in the second half.
« I thought it would be a tremendous time off from him, » said Sampson. “The timing was great. I can only imagine what he said in the crowd. The children answered. This is a sign of great respect on both sides. ”
DeJon Jarreau scored on the trail and the true freshman Tramon Mark made his first career start, followed by a free throw and a 3-pointer to tie the game. Brison Gresham added a putback that was part of a 14-2 run when the Cougars took control.
South Carolina stormed back, closing within 50-49 when the Cougars turned to their children. With the seniors Jarreau and Gresham on the bench with four fouls each, Mark was fouled in a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws. Real freshman Jamal Shead made two free throws and Redshirt freshman J’Wan Roberts fought for a rebound under the post for a putback.
Grimes had 23 points and seven rebounds and Mark shrugged off a 7-1 start to score 18 points for the Cougars. Jareau had 11 points, including nine in a row midway through the first half, to help the Cougars wake up from an offensive slumber.
Houston shot 44 percent in the second half and made 21 of 25 off the free throw line.
Kelvin Sampson said he will miss Wednesday’s game against Sam Houston State. Kellen Sampson is in a 10-day quarantine and will return before December. 15 game against central Florida.
UH went through four test days during the week. Kellen Sampson tested the first two negative and was positive on Thursday.
« I’m fine, » said Kelvin Sampson. « I don’t want to put anyone in danger. I wanted to do everything according to the rules and protocols and what is safe for our children. ”
After the game, White picked up the ball and gave it to his family, who sat in the front row of seats.
In the locker room, White was given a Gatorade bath when he was attacked by players.
Joseph Duarte has been a sports reporter for the Houston Chronicle since August 1996. He is currently involved in college athletics with a focus on the University of Houston. He previously wrote about the Houston Astros from 1998 to 2002, the Houston Texans from 2002 to 2005, and the Texas Longhorns from 2005 to 2009. He joined the Houston Chronicle in 1995 as part of an internship at the Sports Journalism Institute.
Kelvin Sampson, Houston Cougars Men’s Basketball, Head Coach, Kellen Sampson, University of South Carolina
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