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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Men's Basketball

Sasser-led Cougars rally but run out of horsepower late as Mustangs hang on to overtime win


Freshman guard Marcus Sasser had a career-high 26 points in the loss to the Mustangs on Saturday night. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Freshman guard Marcus Sasser had a career-high 26 points in the loss to the Mustangs on Saturday night. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The showdown in Dallas between the Mustangs and Cougars was a tale of two halves, in which the home team dominated the opening period, and Houston rallied in the second half to force overtime, but SMU was able to cling to a 73-72 victory on Saturday evening.

Houston was the first to score in the game and then trailed for the rest of regulation until the final seconds when freshman guard Marcus Sasser was fouled on a 3-pointer, which led to him hitting all three free throws to force overtime.

Houston took the lead off a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Quentin Grimes before he fouled out, and Sasser buried another 3-pointer to give the Cougars a two-point lead, but the Mustangs got the final advantage in overtime when SMU sophomore guard Emmanuel Bandoumel drained a 3-pointer with redshirt freshman Caleb Mills draped all over him.

The Cougars got two shots at the end to potentially win the game, but they missed both.

The Mustangs were on fire from the get-go, hitting nine of their first 10 shots in the game and finishing the first half 15 of 20 from the floor.

As red-hot as SMU was, Houston struggled to defend the Mustangs for much of the first half as players were jumping on pump fakes left and right, and missing assignments.

Houston played a variety of defenses in the first half to try and slow down SMU, but the Mustangs just could not miss, and in one instance, Houston went to a 1-3-1 zone, which ended in a backdoor alley-oop slam for SMU, and the Cougars never went back to it again.

Junior guard DeJon Jarreau played an enormous role in keeping UH within striking distance in the first half, at one point scoring 11-straight points.

Sasser stepped up big for the Cougars, scoring 24 second-half points, which included five made 3-pointers.

After Jarreau fouled out of the game, the Cougars relied on Sasser for a lot of their offense and he was able to deliver many times, which including burying 3-pointers on SMU’s zone defense towards the end of the game.

The Cougars finished the game with 15 turnovers.

Jarreau finished the game with 15 points. After Sasser and Jarreau, Mills was the third closest with eight points.

The loss to the Mustangs is the third in conference play for Houston.

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