Cougars Crash The Offensive Boards As 3manuel Goes Off


No. 3 Houston bounced back from the loss against Temple in a big way, hitting 11 threes in an 82-71 road win over UCF. The Cougars shot 51% (29/57) and rebounded 16 of their 28 misses.

UCF had the hot hand out of the gate and took a quick 8-2 lead, but the Cougar defense tightened up, and Houston made seven of its subsequent eight field goal attempts, four of which were easy dunks. In all, UH went on a 17-2 run, as J’Wan Roberts threw down three of those dunks, and Marcus Sasser found his range and hit two threes during the run.

The Knights battled back to tie it at 23, but Sasser and Emanuel Sharp responded with threes to give the Cougars a 29-25 advantage at the under-8 media timeout.

UH carried momentum out of the timeout and extended their lead to nine before a dry spell for both teams. A UCF floater finally ended the scoring drought, followed by a Jamal Shead putback with about 14 seconds left. Roberts then fouled a UCF player with three seconds left in the half, and when both free throws missed, the Knights’ big man Lahat Thioune tipped it in as time expired. UH led 38-34 at the half.

Both teams shot over 50% in the first half and 5-11, though the Cougars continued their free throw struggles, hitting just 3/7 while committing eight turnovers.

UH caught a break as UCF coach Johnny Dawkins was hit with a technical, and the Coogs converted all four free throws. Then, the momentum swung towards Houston, sparking a 17-7 run driven by Sharp and Sasser. “3manuel” got hot in his first game in his home state, finishing with 18 points. UH went to the under-12 timeout with their biggest lead, 65-52.

The Golden Knights clawed back, thanks partly to five UH fouls in under two minutes, including Sasser’s fourth which put him back on the bench. Then, the crowd started to get rowdy, but 3manuel ended that, burying a deep three to end the Knights’ run.

Later, with UH up eight, Sharp was fouled just before the shot clock ran out for the Cougars. After review, the officials confirmed the call and even upgraded it to a flagrant. Sharp hit both of his foul shots, and Shead hit one of two free throws on the ensuing possession.

UCF never recovered, and the Cougars finished it to remain perfect away from Fertitta (8-0). UH is now 7-1 in the American and 19-2 overall. Sharp finished as the game’s leading scorer, tying his career-high with 18 points on 5-7 shooting and 4-6 from downtown. Shead played his best game recently, scoring 14 points to go along with ten assists and six rebounds.

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