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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Men's Basketball

UH falls to No. 9 Alabama after controversial ending in Tuscaloosa

UH guard Marcus Sasser led the Cougars with 25 points in their loss to No. 9 Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. | Steven Paultanis/The Cougar

UH guard Marcus Sasser led the Cougars with 25 points in their loss to No. 9 Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. | Steven Paultanis/The Cougar

In a battle of two top-15 teams, No. 14 UH fell to No. 9 Alabama 83-82 on a controversial ending Saturday night at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Down one as the final seconds ticked off the clock, UH senior guard Kyler Edwards put up a 3-pointer that bounced off the back of the rim.

Senior forward Fabian White Jr. flew in from under the basket and tipped the ball back towards the rim before Alabama’s JD Davison came out of nowhere and swatted the ball away as the clock hit triple zeros.

Kelvin Sampson was furious, imploring to the referees that Davison took the ball off the rim while it was still above the cylinder.

UH junior guard Marcus Sasser tried following the referees into the tunnel, pleading the same case as his coach.

But there would be no review and Sampson said that he was given no explanation from the officials on why goaltending was not called as they were walking off the court.

“It was goaltending,” Sampson told the media after the game.

Alabama head coach Nate Oats said he would have reacted similarly if he had been on the other side of the call.

“If I was in (Houston’s) shoes, I would’ve wanted a review too,” Oats said.

There weren’t many periods of play that lasted longer than 30 seconds without a whistle in the first half, as 25 fouls, 17 on UH and eight on Alabama, were called in the game’s opening 20 minutes.

As a result, the Crimson Tide took trip after trip to the free throw line and cashed in 17 free points, going 17-20 from the line in the first half.

Despite the foul trouble, UH stayed within one or two possessions of Alabama nearly the entire half by controlling the offensive glass and creating turnovers.

The Cougars pulled down nine offensive boards resulting in nine second chance points. Additionally, UH turned nine Crimson Tide turnovers into 13 points to go into the half trailing 44-41.

Alabama’s Juwan Gary led all scorer’s in the first half with 16 points followed closely behind by Sasser’s 14 points.

Fouls continue to be an issue for the Cougars early in the second half. 

Edwards committed his fourth foul of the night just 56 seconds into the second half and was forced to go to the bench. A few minutes later, senior forward Reggie Chaney was called for his fourth foul of the game.

Even with two starters forced to go to the bench early in the second half, UH did not back down and took the lead at the 14-minute mark after Sasser drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

Sophomore forward J’Wan Roberts haunted Alabama on the offensive glass, pulling down seven second half offensive rebounds to create plenty of second chance opportunities for the Cougars. 

While the Cougars took advantage of extra opportunities, Alabama’s Jahvon Quinerly came up with big bucket after big bucket to keep the game tight.

Senior center Josh Carlton came up with big buckets down the stretch for the Cougars to give them a narrow lead with three minutes remaining.

Jaden Shackleford responded up for the Crimson Tide, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to put Alabama up two with just over two minutes remaining.

Down two, Sasser pulled up and hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 52 seconds left to give the Cougars a one-point lead.

Davison responded on Alabama’s next possession with a put-back dunk off a Quinerly missed shot to put the Crimson Tide up one.

Davison’s dunk proved to be the game-winner.

Sasser finished with 25 points.

Roberts finished with nine points and 13 rebounds and Carlton scored 14 to go along with his six boards.

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