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FutureStarrNo. 1 Houston Tops Memphis 67-65
Houston completed the regular season with a 67-65 victory over Memphis, giving them at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship and guaranteeing themselves top seed in next week's conference tournament.
Houston could return to the top spot in the AP poll for a third consecutive season. Marcus Sasser and J'Wan Roberts each scored 20 points to lead Houston.
On Sunday night, Jamal Shead's late game basket gave Houston the victory over Memphis 67-65. As time ran out, Shead drove into the foul lane and was in perfect position to put the ball in the basket as time ran out.
Houston (29-2, 17-1 AAC) extended their winning streak to 11 games and secured its place in the American Athletic Conference tournament. The Cougars will have a first-round bye before facing off against whichever team wins No. 8 versus 10 on Friday in their semifinal matchup.
Houston took an early 15-point lead in the second half, but Alabama battled back with nine straight points led by Reggie Clowney's layup with 1:12 remaining. Deandre Williams hit a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left and Brandon Miller added two free throws five seconds later to tie it at 63.
Shead, who is averaging 9.8 points and 5.9 assists per game, kept the Houston defense on track with seven assists in 27 minutes. He also shot 3-6 from three-point range for his team-high, plus added one rebound and steal.
But it's the defense on the other end of the court that's really making this happen for the Cougars. Through nine minutes, they've held Arizona to 32.4 percent shooting and as many turnovers (6) as assists - an impressive defensive effort by a top-10 team this season.
Therefore, the Wildcats haven't scored since 12:10 of the second quarter and Houston leads 55-44 in this American Athletic Conference regular-season finale. That is truly incredible!
After a slow start, the Cougars started hitting their shots quickly. Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser each made 3s in the first half, giving Houston a 41-32 advantage at halftime.
The Tigers struggled in the second half, failing to generate consistent shots and falling behind by six early in the third quarter. At 14:10, however, Memphis hit a 3-pointer by Kendrick Davis to pull within four points once more.
Jamal Shead completed a 16-point performance with the game-winning jumper at the buzzer as No. 1 Houston rallied from behind to defeat Memphis 67-65 on Sunday in the American Athletic Conference regular-season finale. With their fourth straight victory over the Tigers, the Cougars (29-2, 17-1 AAC) will head into the conference tournament.
Houston returned to the top spot in the AP poll and earned Sampson a much-needed first-round bye. Additionally, it ended their three-game losing streak against top opponents Alabama and Texas (in their past two outings).
Shead's winning basket came at the conclusion of Memphis' game-tying rally with just under nine seconds remaining on the clock. Kendrick Davis had tied it 65-65 with eight seconds left on the clock with his layup.
But the Tigers missed a free throw and then a jumper that would have given them a one-point lead, setting up Shead for his pullup jumper that gave Houston its sixth win in seven games against Memphis. Tramon Mark added 16 points for Houston, which had gone 0-6 against Memphis all season before beating them for the first time this year on Thursday.
With 13:35 left in the first half, Tigers took a 56-51 lead over Houston. Houston then went on an 17-3 run to open the second half. Jarace Walker started it off with a 3-pointer and Marcus Sasser followed suit, hitting three 3-pointers consecutively for an 8 point cushion.
Meanwhile, Houston maintained a double-digit lead throughout the rest of the game and outrebounded Memphis by 20 points. Houston shot 45% overall - including 9 of 18 3-pointers - while Memphis hit 41%.
With 6:55 left in the game, Memphis center Jalen Duren hit a shot from outside the lane to trim Houston's lead to 51-47. But Houston quickly responded with an 8-2 run to take back control of the game and maintain their advantage.
Kendric Davis led Memphis with 23 points, followed by Damaria Franklin with 15 and DeAndre Williams adding 13. It was their third straight victory, as Memphis has won 11 of its past 13 games while the Cougars have won seven of their last 10 contests.
On Sunday, Houston (25-2, 13-1 American Athletic Conference) easily defeated Memphis (22-7, 10-4) to move into a tie for first place with the Tigers in the AAC. Houston led by as many as 20 points in the first half and extended their advantage to 26 at halftime despite playing without leading scorer Kendric Davis who was out due to an injury.
Roberts and Marcus Sasser combined for 20 points as Houston held off Memphis 72-64 to claim its seventh straight victory. Sasser scored 15 of his points in the second half, while Roberts chipped in with 10 off the bench.
Houston had six turnovers in the opening half and held a 16-8 advantage in points in the paint. But Memphis shot 45% from the field and made 3 of 17 3-pointers, cutting their lead to 58-48 with 5:41 left to play.
In the second half, Houston's defense came alive to help contain Memphis to its worst shooting performance of the season - 7 of 23 from distance. Furthermore, Houston took care of the ball and raced out to a 22-12 advantage.
Houston junior forward J'Wan Roberts recorded his third consecutive double-double on Wednesday, tallying 26 points (9-10 FG, 1-2 FT), nine rebounds, one assist and four blocks over 25 minutes in their 89-59 win against Tulane.
Jarace Walker notched a career high 13 boards in victory! Through 27 appearances this season, Walker has reached double figures in five games and is averaging 11.3 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Through eight games this season, Chaney has been a reliable option off the bench for Houston, averaging 2.9 points and 2.7 minutes in 13.6 minutes per game. On Senior Night against Wichita State, Chaney will make his first start of the year.
Through 15 games this season, Impact Roberts has averaged 7.1 rebounds per game and ranks eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference's rebound percentage. The 6-7 junior is also an important factor in Houston's paint presence with 2.6 offensive rebounds per game.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson credits Marcus Sasser with being a major factor in their team's success this season. The preseason AP All-America selection leads the top-ranked Cougars (25-2, 13-1 American) with an average of 16.7 points per game this year.
Sasser is one of the nation's top shotblockers, averaging 5.9 blocks per game this season and shooting 43% from 3-point range at a career high 39% rate.
The senior is an adept striker who thrives in the paint. According to Synergy Sports, his career high in this area is 64.8 percent. He can either drive or pull back and shoot from there.
Houston has won seven straight games and is ranked number one in the AP men's basketball poll. The Cougars must maintain their momentum Monday night against Oregon State to keep up with their ranking.
Houston's roster reveals high hopes for this team. The Cougars are Final Four caliber and will be looking to advance past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament this weekend.
Sasser is joined in double figures by J'Wan Roberts and Mark Anderson, with the former just one rebound away from a double-double while Anderson averaging a career high 20 points per game this season.
Tramon Mark is another key player, averaging 19 points per game this season. He has scored in double digits in all but three games this year and appears to be making a strong case for the AAC player of the year award.
He's been an outstanding defensive player, allowing just 69.1 points per game - the lowest mark in the nation. His teammates have been able to capitalize on his strengths, helping Houston improve its record to 17-1.
Before making the decision to return for his senior season at Houston, he carefully considered all factors. But the opportunity to lead a team that has won its first national title and is headed to the Final Four made it an easy choice.