Cougars fend off Memphis to win 72-71
The Cougars staved off a late second half comeback by the Tigers to beat Memphis 72-71.
With this win, Houston has secured a first-round bye in the American Athletic Conference Championships. Houston moves to a 20-8 overall record, and an 11-5 record in the conference.
Early in the game, Memphis gave up multiple turnovers, which Houston capitalized on to pull out with an early lead.
The Cougars used this momentum to pull up a double-digit lead by the eighth minute of the first half. They reached their highest lead at 13 points, 10 minutes into the game.
Memphis began to catch up in the last part of the first half as redshirt junior Rob Gray found himself in foul trouble. With a little more than 10 minutes in the first half, he received his third foul and was benched.
Going into halftime, the Cougars led 40-35.
In the second half, however, Memphis picked up. They narrowed the point differential with their defense, shutting down Houston’s offensive drives. The Cougars went scoreless for three crucial minutes late in the second half
With four minutes left in the second half, Memphis took advantage of its momentum to make a late game comeback to tie the game at 66-66.
A foul on junior Wes VanBeck gave Memphis a free throw to give the Tigers their first lead in the game at 67-66. Gray immediately put the Cougars back on top with a quick lay-up for a close score of 68-67.
Houston maintained a slim lead over Memphis for the remaining 3 minutes. The Tigers’ Jeremiah Martin attempted a three-point buzzer beater, but sophomore guard Galen Robinson swatted the shot to give Houston the win.
Memphis may have outrebounded Houston, but their high turnover rate proved to be a problem for them. Memphis had a total of 38 rebounds and 13 turnovers for the game, versus Houston, who had 33 rebounds and 9 turnovers.
Redshirt senior guard Damyean Dotson led the Cougars in points and rebounds with 31 and nine respectively.
Robinson led the team in assists at eight.
Because of Gray’s foul trouble in the first half, head coach Kelvin Sampson limited his play time to only 19 minutes. However, he was second on the team in points with 17.
Houston looks to play at Cincinnati on Thursday, March 2. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will air on ESPN2.