No. 5 Houston Upset by Unranked East Carolina; 8-Game Winning Streak Snapped

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2021

East Carolina's Jayden Gardner (1) reacts following a basket and being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Houston in Greenville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

East Carolina handed No. 5 Houston only its second men's basketball loss of the season with a 82-73 upset Wednesday.

Jayden Gardner led the way for the Pirates (8-6) with 21 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, his seventh double-double of the season. The team also shot 11-of-24 from three-point range at home in Williams Arena, keying the first win over a Top 10 opponent in program history, per the ESPN broadcast.

Tyler Feldman @TylerFeldmanTV

What ECU just accomplished is nothing short of miraculous. Before tonight: 0-5 in 2021 5 straight losses 9 straight losses to Houston 5-17 all-time vs. Houston But the Pirates played a near perfect game against No. 5 Houston. Embarrassing upset loss for the Cougars.

ECU trailed by three at halftime but the defense picked up in the second half, allowing the hosts to build a double-digit lead with just over five minutes left. The Cougars couldn't keep up and never led over the final 19 minutes of the game.

Houston (15-2) entered the day with eight straight wins, the last six by double digits, but stumbled on the road against a team that had five straight losses to fall into last place in the American Athletic Conference.

Many criticized Houston after the shocking loss:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Houston just lost to East Carolina, and more surprisingly the Cougars allowed 82 points. Houston was first in the country coming into the game, allowing 56 points per game. Next Up for Kelvin Sampson: OUR LADY OF THE LAKE

Matt Norlander @MattNorlander

Checking in here. Houston, a 16.5-pt fave, gets dumped by nine at East Carolina, which entered the day ranked 150th at KenPom. The Cougars look to bounce back on Saturday with a home tip against Our Lady of the Lake. There will be refreshments on the folding tables afterward.

Busting Brackets @BustingBrackets

One of the biggest upsets of the season just happened with No. 5 Houston falling to East Carolina, who is now 2-6 in AAC play.

East Carolina had struggled in all phases over the past few weeks but especially shooting, making just 13 three-pointers in the last three games. Its 31.9 percent three-point shooting this season ranked 245th in the country.

You wouldn't know it was the case Wednesday as the Pirates seemingly couldn't miss from deep. They shot 7-of-14 from three in the first half and kept it going throughout the night.

Tremont Robinson-White was especially impressive while making five of his six threes, while Bitumba Baruti and J.J. Miles were also valuable from the perimeter.

Things weren't as smooth for Quentin Grimes, Houston's leading scorer who shot just 2-of-10 from the field on his way to seven points.

DeJon Jarreau helped pick up the slack offensively with 25 points, his best scoring output since transferring to Houston three years ago. Marcus Sasser also had a strong showing (17 points) while Justin Gorham posted a double-double, but it wasn't enough to help the Top Five team get into the win column.

This loss could have lasting effects for a team with high expectations this year:

Graham Couch @Graham_Couch

So, about Houston as a No. 1 seed ... not happening.

Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein

Houston's loss to East Carolina eliminates the Cougars from any discussion regarding a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. It also will make it significantly harder to land on the two line. https://t.co/kK1m4WsmzZ

Houston is currently No. 4 in the NET rankings but has just three Quadrant 1 victories and now two losses outside of the first tier. The squad should get a chance to recover with a tuneup game against Our Lady of the Lake, an NAIA school in San Antonio, on Saturday.

For East Carolina, this win could potentially turn things around after some early struggles in the conference. The team will try to keep the momentum when it faces Memphis on Saturday.