Men's Basketball Sports

Shead exits with injury, Cougars finish tourney in Sweet 16 loss to Duke


Houston’s season came to end at the hand of Duke after Jamal Shead’s injury. | Anh Le/The Cougar

The Cougars, without senior point guard and star player Jamal Shead, who left the game with a severe ankle sprain in the first half, stuck around in the second half and had a chance.

After Emanuel Sharp brought UH to within three in the final minute with an and-one layup, Houston had one final shot to tie the game with 8.9 seconds remaining.

Sharp caught the inbounds pass, stepped back for a three, and missed it off front-iron.

And the season was over. UH fell in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year after falling to the Duke Blue Devils 54-51 Friday night.

“It’s just not our time,” said head coach Kelvin Sampson after the game. “You don’t have to agree with it, but you have to understand it.”

After UH started the game with an early lead, Shead landed awkwardly on his right ankle on a drive to the basket and was helped to the locker room with seven minutes to go in the first half. Forced to play without its star player and leader, Houston relinquished its 16-10 lead as Duke took its first lead of the game minutes later.

“It was swollen on both sides,” Shead said after the game. “I tried to run on it, but I couldn’t put any weight on it.”

The Cougars remained within striking distance for the start of the second half but struggled to muster up enough offense or stops to regain the lead from the Blue Devils. UH did not hit its first three-pointer until an L.J. Cryer jumper at the 12:15 mark of the second half brought UH’s deficit to 39-37. Houston shot 2-for-8 from downtown for the game.

“As tough as losing Jamal was,” Sampson said. “I was equally proud of our toughness, our resiliency. The way those kids fought.”

Duke shot 50% (10-20) from the floor in the second half compared to a 4-for-18 (22.2%) start in the 13 minutes Shead played.

Cryer finished as UH’s leading scorer with 15 points while redshirt senior forward J’Wan Roberts followed with 13 points and eight boards.

UH’s 2023-24 season record will stand at 32-5.

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