Hinton shines as Houston starts conference games with win over UCF
The Cougars began the American Athletic Conference portion of the schedule with a strong 78-63 win over the Knights on Friday evening at Fertitta Center.
Houston and UCF began the game exchanging baskets until a quick 7-0 run saw the Cougars take an early 12-6 advantage.
Houston was able to keep that lead and expand it to as much as an 11-point edge in the first half when they led 26-15, but the Cougars were struck with an offensive cold-spell and the team went scoreless for 4:38 of game time.
During that span, the Knights went on a 12-0 run that saw them regain the lead momentarily at 27-26, but a free-throw from junior forward Fabian White Jr. ended the cold streak and tied the game.
After a UCF 3-pointer gave the Knights their largest lead of the night at 30-27, freshman guard Marcus Sasser, who had eight points in the first period, tied the game with a 3-pointer of his own, and the Cougars regained the lead off of a steal and slam from sophomore guard Nate Hinton.
Houston ended the first half outscoring UCF 10-3 and led 37-33.
The second half began with a made jumper from White Jr. and then a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Quentin Grimes sandwiched in between a layup from UCF senior guard Dazon Ingram, which put the Houston lead at seven.
The Knights were able to cut the deficit to two until a corner 3-pointer from Hinton pushed the lead back to five and energized the crowd at Fertitta Center for a moment until UCF answered with a 3-pointer of their own to cut the lead to two again.
Houston slowly built their lead back up to eight behind six free-throws from junior guard DeJon Jarreau.
The Cougars kicked up the defensive intensity in the second half, and it was sparked by Hinton, who was all over the place, causing steals, setting up his teammates and converting on layups through fouls.
Over a crucial five-minute stretch in the second half, the Cougars’ defense held the Knights to only 5 points, which helped extend Houston’s lead to 13, and UCF was unable to recover
Hinton had 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals in only the second half.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard finished the game with 20 points, 16 rebounds and five steals.
White Jr. also added 13 points and 4 rebounds in the win.
Senior guard Dazon Ingram led UCF with 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Houston’s next game will be at Temple at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.