UH defeats Illinois, advances to third consecutive Sweet 16
For the third consecutive NCAA Tournament, the UH’s men basketball team is Sweet 16 bound. Graduate guard Taze Moore and sophomore guard Jamal Shead played the game of their lives to lift the Cougars past Illinois 68-53 on Sunday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
The UH defense caused all sorts of fits for the Illini from the start, including easy transition buckets for the Cougars.
UH turned nine first-half Illinois turnovers into 12 points.
The Cougars denied Illinois 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn any easy scoring opportunities, doubling the Illini big man and forcing him to get rid of the ball. Cockburn was held to six points on three field goal attempts in the first half.
UH used an 18-4 run over a seven-minute stretch to build a 23-11 lead late in the first half.
Illinois freshmen guard duo RJ Melendez and Luke Goode got the Illini back in the game in the closing minutes of the first half, combining for 11 points on a perfect four-for-four shooting off the bench to cut UH’s lead to 30-26 heading into the locker room.
Moore used his athleticism to lead the way for the Cougars in the first half, scoring 11 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
Cockburn was much more active on the offensive end in the second half, enforcing his presence early with six quick points to keep the Illini within one to two possessions of the UH lead.
Moore continued to lead the way for the Cougars offensively, coming up with big bucket after big bucket to answer each time the Illini scored.
With the game tied at 40, Shead went on a 6-0 of his own on three consecutive baskets to put the Cougars up six.
Illinois cut the lead to two but the Cougars once again had an answer — Moore hit floater followed by a 3-pointer by senior guard Kyler Edwards and capped off by a Shead jumper to put UH up 54-45.
After four straight Illini points, the Cougars put the game away using an 11-0 run to go up 16.
Moore finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Shead scored 18 points and had three steals.
Edwards had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.
UH will play the winner of No. 1 seed Arizona and No. 9 seed TCU on Thursday in San Antonio.