Houston Cougars basketball, behind a career night from Jarace Walker, comeback to top Cincinnati

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Christian Smith/AP/Shutterstock (13745380h) Houston forward Jarace Walker, right, shoots over Cincinnati guard Jeremiah Davenport (24) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston Cincinnati Basketball, Houston, United States – 28 Jan 2023

Houston Cougars basketball, behind a career night from Jarace Walker, comeback to top Cincinnati

Despite trailing for the majority of the game, the third-ranked Houston Cougars basketball team found a way to come back and top the Cincinnati Bearcats, 75-69.

It was a sensational outing from freshman forward Jarace Walker against the Bearcats. He had the hot hand from the field all game long, setting a new career-high in points. He hit fadeaway jumpers with defenders right in his space, crashed the glass for tip-ins, and even caught an alley-oop from his point guard.

Walker’s 25-point, seven-rebound performance was desperately needed in a game that seemed like Cincinnati was just one step ahead for much of the afternoon. The forward showed out on both ends of the floor for Houston on Saturday.

With the Cougars trailing the Bearcats, 60-49, Houston needed to string together a run to avoid losing back-to-back home games for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Junior guard Jamal Shead split a pair of free throws and then UH got a stop.

Shead came down the other end of the floor and hit a floater in the paint to draw Houston within eight, 60-52. The Cougars forced another stop against the Bearcats, but Shead was called for an offensive foul. After a dunk by UC redshirt sophomore forward Viktor Lakhin, who had 15 points and five rebounds against UH, Walker really got it going.

First, the freshman hit a turnaround jumper to cut UH’s deficit to six. Then he came down the floor again and hit another tough jump shot, this time one that soared through the air to cut Cincinnati’s lead to just four.

After two made free throws from redshirt freshman guard Emanuel Sharp, Houston trailed by just two. Senior guard Marcus Sasser drove for the game-tying layup but missed. It was redshirt junior J’Wan Roberts that skied in and had a put-back layup to tie the game.

Despite trailing most of the game, including facing the largest deficit of the season at 13, Houston had found a way to tie the game. Cincinnati redshirt senior guard Landers Nolley II made the lead short-lived after he hit a jumper to make it 64-62 in favor of the Bearcats.

It was Walker’s next five points, which gave him a new collegiate career-high, that finally put the Cougars over the hump with a 67-64 advantage. A dunk by Roberts gave UH a five-point lead, but Cincinnati rallied with a dunk from Lakhin and a 3-pointer from graduate student guard David DeJulius.

Shead hit a clutch and tough step-back jumper as the shot clock was winding down to give Houston a 71-69 lead. The Cougars turned around and forced a shot clock violation, hounding the Bearcats for 30 seconds straight, which ultimately sealed the game.

Despite starting the game shaky from the free-throw line, Houston was able to ice the contest with four free throws from Shead and Sasser.

Shead finished the game with 13 points and five assists. Sasser had nine points and four assists. Roberts had 14 points and six rebounds.

The Cougars return to action on Thursday night on the road against the Wichita State Shockers.

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