No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball battles through adversity for 83-66 senior night win over Wichita State

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13790487g) Houston forward Jarace Walker (25) is defended by Wichita State forward Gus Okafor (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston Wichita St Basketball, Houston, United States – 02 Mar 2023

No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball battles through adversity for 83-66 senior night win over Wichita State

No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball overcame a bad shooting start to cap off senior night with a win on Thursday evening inside Fertitta Center. UH defeated Wichita State, 83-66.

After falling behind an eight-point hole in the first half, Houston responded by outscoring Wichita State, 19-9, to get to the halftime break. The Cougars, however, really turned it up in the second period, both on offense and defensively.

Houston, who struggled to shoot from the field in the opening period, exploited Wichita State’s 2-3 zone defense more efficiently in the second half. The tone was also set early after halftime by freshman forward Jarace Walker.

Walker, who although not a senior, could well have played in his last home game as a Houston player as well, tracked down three offensive rebounds in the first three minutes of the second half to aid UH in hurting the Shockers with second-chance opportunities.

As a team, Houston also began spreading the ball around more effectively. The Cougars made eight baskets to start the second half. Six of those baskets came on assists.

Senior guard Marcus Sasser and junior guard Jamal Shead were the beneficiaries of a lot of Houston’s made baskets. The duo heated up, combining for 35 total points in the second half. Each player hit three 3-pointers in the second half.

Sasser ended the game with 24 points, four assists, and three rebounds. Shead tallied 25 points, which is a new career-high, and three rebounds. Walker had 11 points and nine rebounds.

On one possession under the 10-minute mark in the second period, Shead picked off a pass and ignited Houston’s fast break. The play ended with what has become a signature for Sasser, a euro step that goes at a speed only Sasser has mastered.

While Wichita State shot an outstanding 24-of-37 from the field on Thursday, but UH forced them to commit 20 turnovers.

Houston started all of its seniors against the Shockers. Reggie Chaney and Darius Bowser. For Sasser, Thursday night was an all-time night. With his three 3-pointers against Wichita State, the Dallas native tied the all-time program record for most career 3-pointer at 261. He tied Robert McKiver. Sasser’s next 3-pointer will make him the sole holder.

With Houston’s victory, Sasser also tied Fabian White Jr. for the winningest player in Fertitta Center history. Both ended their careers with 49 wins inside the building.

The Houston Cougars basketball team will play its final game of the regular season on Sunday when it travels to Tennessee to take on the Memphis Tigers at the FedEx Forum. The game is slated to tip off at 11 a.m. and air on CBS.

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