Coming off two tough road losses in a row the week before, UH head coach Kelvin Sampson pulled aside his senior point guard Jamal Shead, the team’s emotional leader and the face of the program, during shootaround before the team’s game against No. 25 Texas Tech Wednesday night.
“I told him how much I appreciated him,” Sampson said. “Not for anything he’s done other than how far he’s come.”
The talk evidently worked wonders as Shead scored a career-high 29 points to go with 10 assists to drive No. 5 Houston past No. 25 Texas Tech 77-54 in an impressive bounce-back win in the Fertitta Center. After the game, Shead spoke about how the talk got him in the right headspace heading into such a big game.
“We didn’t talk about basketball. He talked about just my growth in life and just as a person,” Shead said. “It takes that sometimesjust to get your mind off things. It goes a long way, you know, that is one of my role models.”
A dominant second half – where Shead scored 14 points and six points – in which UH outscored the Red Raiders 37-23 saw the Cougars extend what was a nine-point halftime lead to as much as 27.
An 8-0 run to begin the second half broke the game open for the Cougars, as UH’s staunch defense caused Texas Tech to hit just one of its first 10 shots to begin the half. The Red Raiders never got closer than 14 points the rest of the game. Texas Tech was held to just 31.8 percent shooting in the half (7-22) and committed nine turnovers. Only one Red Raider shot better than 50 percent from the floor, and the team’s leading scorer, Pop Isaacs, was held to 4-15 shooting.
A deflection and save from freshman big man Joseph Tugler was followed by a tough and-one finish through contact by Shead giving UH its largest lead of the day at 55-46 with 10:38 to play. A couple of possessions later, Shead buried a step-back three for his 27th point. His previous single-game best was 25.
“Shead was not going to lose this game,” said Texas Tech head coach Grant McCasland. “He looked like the best guard in our league tonight.”
The win marks Houston’s first-ever win against a ranked Big 12 opponent and first ranked win in the Fertitta Center since 2019.
“It’s good to play in front of your home city,” Shead said. “They made a big impact. You feel that electricity just go through you after every bucket.”
After a disjointed first eight minutes, Shead made several plays on both ends of the floor to spur a 13-0 run that put the Cougars up 22-12 midway through the first half. After a three-pointer by redshirt sophomore guard Ramon Walker Jr., Shead pick-pocketed Texas Tech’s Joe Toussaint and found L.J. Cryer for a transition three that caused the Fertitta Center crowd to erupt.
Houston kept the Red Raiders at arm’s length for the rest of the half as timely three-pointers from Texas Tech kept the lead from growing. Shead scored 15 points and added four assists and two steals in the half as UH led 38-29.
Houston improved to 15-2 on the season and 2-2 in conference play, snapping a two-game losing streak in which both games were decided in the final minutes on the road.
“It’s the road in the Big 12. Good teams lose on the road in the Big 12,” Sampson said. “And the good teams win at home in the Big 12, and we’re no different from anybody else.”
UH will stay home to face UCF on Saturday afternoon.