No. 1 Houston struggled to find their form in its first game of the American Athletic Conference Friday afternoon but advanced with a 60-46 win over ECU. Marcus Sasser went off once again in DFW, scoring 30 points, the second time he’s done that in his career. He had 24 points in the second half.
“We were out of character on a lot of things today,” said Kelvin Sampson.
UH shot just 28%, their worst performance since shooting 29% in their loss against Villanova in the Elite Eight in 2022.
“That’s hard to do,” Sampson said. “Especially when you consider (that) we had a guy go 9-15.”
At the break, the first half was sloppy for both sides, but Houston eeked out a two-point lead, 23-21. The Cougars shot 8/31 from the floor and got out-rebounded 24-14, and UH had just two offensive boards in the first 20 minutes despite the 23 missed shots.
Houston started the game dismally, just 4/14 from the floor, but goaded ECU into six early turnovers. After the under-12 timeout, The Cougars broke an 11-11 tie with a 5-0 spurt. Soon after, though, UH missed nine-straight shots and was out-muscled on the boards. Houston’s starting lineup, sans Jamal Shead, went 3/18 in the first half.
The Cougars came out with more intensity to start the second half, going on a 16-5 run out of the gate with the help of 8/10 free throw shooting during that span. Sasser scored 12 of Houston’s first 19 points to start the second half, including a two-handed slam when the Pirates’ defense opened up on a fast break.
After the Pirates closed within eight midway with around nine minutes to go, UH would not let ECU get any closer. The Cougars fared much better on the glass in the second half, grabbing 27 rebounds to the Pirates’ 18. UH went 18/23 at the line in the second half.
The Cougars will face the winner of Temple and Cincinnati on Saturday. Temple is the only conference opponent to beat Houston this season.
It was win #30 for the Cougars this season. ECU Game Book
Follow GoCoogs on YouTube
No one has more fun with Cougar Basketball players, showing their personalities, quirks, and behind-the-scenes action, than GoCoogs.com. Follow us today!