Men's Basketball Sports

No. 2 Cougars take down No. 6 Iowa State to go atop Big 12

No. 2 Houston kept No. 6 Iowa State at an arms length from the opening tip on the back of outstanding performances from senior guard Jamal Shead and sophomore guard Emanuel Sharp. | Anh Le/The Cougar

With an assist from a raucous Fertitta Center crowd, the No. 2 Houston Cougars outmuscled No. 6 Iowa State on Monday night, getting revenge on the Cyclones for handing the high-flying team one of its just three losses on the season last month.

The game was highly-anticipated, pitting the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Big 12 against one another with the top of the conference on the line.

The Cougars got out to the early lead by scoring the game’s first five points.

As Houston expanded its lead to 9-2 Iowa State looked rattled by the UH defense and volume in the arena. The Cyclones began their night shooting just 1 for 7 from the field before knocking down a layup under the basket to improve their numbers.

Sophomore guard Emanuel Sharp was the driving force behind most of UH’s early scoring. After drawing a foul behind the arc, Sharp hit two of his three free throws to put Houston up by double digits, having scored nine of UH’s first 15 points.

While Sharp’s scoring pulled the Cougars ahead on the offensive end, UH’s defensive success continued well into the half. With the score at 17-6, Iowa State had gone 0 for 6 from behind the arc, shooting an only marginally better 3 for 15 from the field overall.

With under ten minutes left in the first period, the Cyclones found some offensive juice, finally founding a shot behind the arc and drawing a foul for their first free throw of the night.

The Cyclones kept fighting into the final minutes, clawing their way back to an arm’s length at 28-23 at the halftime buzzer.

Both squads struggled from the field, with the Cyclones shooting 33 percent and Houston hitting just 30 percent of its field goals in the half. Where shooting did not separate the teams, it was the free throw differential that kept Houston in front. The Cougars shot 10 for 15 on field goals in the half while Iowa State shot just three, making all of them.

Just as things went after the opening tip, an early stalemate gave way to a huge momentum swing toward UH. After a miraculous deep three-pointer from the Cyclones, senior guard Jamal Shead lobbed a pass up to junior forward Ja’Vier Francis who threw down a spectacular dunk to move the Cougars ahead by eight points.

Shortly thereafter, a three from the corner from Sharp pushed Houston ahead by double-digits once again.

Iowa State began to find its shot, capitalizing on a pair of missed opportunities from Houston with two fastbreak three-pointers, making the score 46-41.

With under ten minutes left to play the free throw advantage flipped sharply in favor of the Cyclones, helping Iowa State pull to within four points of the Cougars.

Neither team could pull away. The Cyclones fought to break UH’s lead but could not. At the same time, UH struggled to open its advantage much further as the game got increasingly physical with each passing minute.

Three minutes were left on the clock and Houston was ahead by eight when the dagger arrived, a corner three-pointer from senior guard Mylik Wilson to make the lead 66-55.

The final minutes ticked down with Houston fending off any Iowa State comeback hopes. The final scoreline read 73-65.

Houston was propelled by the scoring performances of Jamal Shead and Emanuel Sharp, who scored 26 and 20 points respectively. Both guards showed up on the defense end as well as Sharp forced four steals and Shead forced three.

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