No. 3 Houston converts turnovers into 71-65 win over UCF
HOUSTON (AP) — Tramon Mark scored 19 points, Marcus Sasser had 18 points and No. 3 Houston held on for a 71-65 win over Central Florida on Saturday.
J’Wan Roberts added 12 points and Jamal Shead scored 11 points for Houston (14-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference). The Cougars shot 38%, including 6 of 19 on 3-pointers.
“We might not have had our fastball today, but we found a way to win,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “That’s what’s important is finding a way to win when maybe you don’t have your best stuff.”
Houston forced 13 UCF turnovers and converted them into 20 points.
“Going through adversity, a lot of lead changes, a lot of momentum (changes) when they took the lead,” Sasser said. “We didn’t get too down and just stayed the course. Just fighting and trying to win every possession.”
Darius Johnson had 17 points and eight rebounds, Ithiel Horton and Taylor Hendricks each scored 14 points and C.J. Kelly scored 11 points for the Knights (10-4, 1-1). UCF shot 39%, including 6 of 27 on 3-pointers.
“We have a lot of work to do,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We know that. We’re still a work in progress with so many new players, but we are going to keep on trying to get better every game. There are no moral victories in our sport unfortunately, so we just got to figure out how to get better and be more improved as we go through the season.”
Trailing by two with 7 ½ minutes remaining, Houston went on an 8-0 streak to take a 60-54 lead with 5:42 remaining on a three-point play by Roberts, who scored all eight points on the run. The Knights responded with a 7-2 spurt to cut the lead to one on a free throw by Kelly with three minutes left.
After two free throws by Ja’Vier Francis increased Houston’s lead to three, Horton missed two 3-pointers and Sasser made one of two free throws with a minute left to put Houston up 65-61.
UCF turned the ball over on its next possession, and Shead hit two free throws to up the lead to six with 32 seconds remaining.
“I thought they executed well down the stretch,” Dawkins said of Houston. “They did a good job of playing off each other.”
In the first half, following a jumper by Francis with 12:42 remaining, Johnson hooked Mark and threw him down in the paint. As Mark was trying to get up, Johnson pushed Mark down. Johnson was whistled for a flagrant one foul on the play.
The play fired up Mark, who scored 13 points during a 23-6 run over the next 6 ½ minutes to give Houston a 32-18 lead.
“My teammates were finding me, and I was getting the right shots,” Mark said. “I felt good and had momentum. I was rolling with it in the first half.”
The Cougars led 39-31 at the half, but the Knights went on a 15-3 run to open up a 46-42 lead in the second with 15 minutes left.
UCF: The Knights missed a chance for a Quad 1 win and are 1-2 in Quad 1 opportunities this season. … All four of UCF’s losses this season have been by six points or less. … UCF was 17 of 20 from the free-throw line.
Houston: The Cougars earned another Quad 2 victory and improved to 6-1 this season in Quad 1/Quad 2 games. … Houston started 11 of 20 shooting but followed it up shooting 13 of 44 for the rest of the game.
Houston should at least hold at No. 3 but could rise to No. 2 following UConn’s loss.
UCF: At East Carolina on Wednesday.
Houston: Hosts SMU on Thursday.
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