Houston soars into the Sweet Sixteen
Houston defeated Ohio State on Sunday to make it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 35 years.
Ohio State hung in the game for a good while, but No. 3 Houston overwhelmed the No. 11 seed with its tough defense.
Making it to the final sixteen teams was especially sweet for the members of the team who were there in last year’s last second loss to Michigan when there were still 32 teams in play, said head coach Kelvin Sampson.
“They were crying… they were hurt and I didn’t know how to help them,” Sampson said.
Senior Corey Davis Jr. said he rewatched that fateful shot in the Michigan game before he went to bed to motivate himself.
“That moment has just been motivation for a lot of us. I just wanted to get myself the extra motivation to not put ourselves into that predicament again,” Davis Jr. said.
Just like the Georgia State game, Houston jumped out to an early 9-5 lead and forced Ohio State to make errors early.
But unlike the Georgia State game, Ohio State upped the pressure and started forcing mistakes from Houston.
The Buckeyes took a 21-19 lead in the middle of the half and put the Cougars on the back foot for the first time of the tournament.
Houston showed off its depth early as redshirt sophomore DeJon Jarreau and sophomore Brison Gresham were subbed in and made quick impacts on offense and defense.
The Buckeye’s lead would not last for long as Davis Jr. made a pair of threes to help the Cougars take back the lead 30-25. Davis Jr. finished with 11 points in the half.
Houston carried that momentum into the half by finishing it on a small run to extend the lead to 39-31 before the break.
Right before the teams went into the locker room, the squads got into an argument and Jarreau and Ohio State senior Keyshawn Woods were both given technical fouls.
Houston was hot in the start of the second half and were able to get a 10 points lead, but Ohio State would not go quietly and cut it to five before the under-12 minute commercial timeout.
The Cougars’ depth was too much for the Buckeyes though and the team was relentless down the stretch.
Junior guard Armoni Brooks and senior guard Galen Robinson Jr. got more involved with the finishing in the second half and ended the game with 10 and 13 points, respectively.
Sophomore forward Fabian White Jr. also finished in the double digits with 11 points to make it four Cougars with 10 or more points. Davis Jr. ended the game with 21 points.
Sampson also wanted to credit the players that didn’t score as much like sophomore Brison Gresham. Gresham had nine points, but his presence on defense kept Ohio State sophomore Kaleb Wesson to just 3-for-7.
Houston will next play Kentucky 9 p.m. Friday in Kansas City, Missouri.
Houston defeated Ohio State 74-59 on Sunday to make it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 35 years.