Quentin Grimes scored 25 points and Caleb Mills added 12 to help host Houston stave off a late rally by Boise States in a 68-58 nonconference victory on Friday at the Fertitta Center.
The 17th-ranked Cougars (2-0) extended to a 52-32 lead with 9:37 left to play on a DeJon Jarreau layup before the Broncos (0-1) made things interesting in their season opener.
Boise State hit 5-of-7 field goals during an 18-5 run, with two Marcus Shaver Jr. free throws cutting the deficit to 57-50 with 3:25 remaining. But Mills, the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, provided a measure of stability following a ragged stretch of four turnovers with a layup at the 3:09 mark. Mills missed the Cougars’ opener with an ankle injury.
Marcus Sasser added 10 points for the Cougars. J’Wan Roberts grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for Houston, which posted a 49-26 advantage on the glass.
RayJ Dennis paced the Broncos with 18 points while Shaver chipped in 16. Senior guard Derrick Alston Jr., the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year and a Houston native, was held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting over 32 minutes.
The Cougars overcame a 1-for-8 start from the floor by forcing four Broncos turnovers by the first media timeout. Houston then found a bit of a rhythm, shooting 5 of 9 to build a 14-9 lead that was part of a 9-0 run that extended the advantage to 20-9.