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Friday, April 23, 2021

Men's Basketball

UH survives road challenge vs. UCF, stays undefeated


UH guard Marcus Sasser goes for the layup and battles through contact from a Wichita State defender in a game at Fertitta Center during the 2019-20 season. In Saturday's game against UCF, Sasser led UH in points. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

UH guard Marcus Sasser goes for the layup and battles through contact from a Wichita State defender in a game at Fertitta Center during the 2019-20 season. In Saturday’s game against UCF, Sasser led UH in points. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

Houston entered Saturday’s matchup against UCF as the No. 6 ranked team in the country, but it was clear from the start that the unranked Golden Knights were going to put up a fight against the Cougars.

Despite the challenge, UH pulled out a 63-54 conference win over UCF on the road.

UCF’s defense enjoyed early success, stifling the Cougars and making it difficult on UH’s athletic wings to find their spots. The effort catapulted the Knights to an early lead in the first half.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson quickly substituted freshman guard Tramon Mark and sophomore guard Caleb Mills into the game, the latter returning from an injury that has held him out in recent contests.

UH’s defense played well to begin the game, forcing several turnovers and offensive fouls. Its offense, however, struggled to put the ball in the basket early on, scoring only eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game.

UCF allowed the UH to take several shot attempts from the outside in the first half but soon tightened their strategy following a couple of 3-pointers by sophomore guard Marcus Sasser and junior guard Quentin Grimes.

Mills successfully got to the rim and tied the game at 15 with around 6 minutes to play in the first half, scoring two more points on the following possession, this time also drawing a foul and knocking down the free throw to give Houston the lead.

That lead was traded several times throughout the remainder of the half, and UH continued to rely on its defense to manage the deficit while they struggled to find consistency on the other end of the floor.

At halftime, the teams were tied at 25, with UH shooting just under 31 percent from the field, and Sasser leading all scorers with ten points.

The second half saw the Cougars hold a slim lead for the majority of time on the clock.

In a low scoring matchup, defense dominated the rhythm of the game. UH and UCF had nine and four steals respectively, and neither team shot over 38 percent from the field by the sound of the final buzzer.

UH’s Sasser finished the game with 19 points and five rebounds, while senior guard DeJon Jarreau added 10 points and five assists, and Caleb Mills contributed off of the bench.

Bright spots for the Golden Knights in the loss were sophomore guard Darin Green Jr. and senior guard Brandon Mahan, who finished with 12 and 13 points of their own. UCF also outrebounded UH 38 to 28.

Freshman guard Tramon Mark took only two shots coming off the bench. Mills, who continues to work his way back from nagging ankle injuries, scored 12 points in his return.

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