Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (13771093f) Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) shoots as SMU’s Efe Odigie (23) and others defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Dallas Houston SMU Basketball, Dallas, United States – 16 Feb 2023
No. 2 Houston Cougars basketball beats SMU, 80-65, gets season sweep
The Houston Cougars basketball team went to Dallas and put a beatdown on SMU for the second time in as many attempts this season. UH defeated SMU, 80-65.
No. 2 Houston took SMU’s best punch in the first half and kept pace with the Mustangs throughout the early portion of the opening period. The Cougars (24-2, 12-1 American Athletic) had multiple players take turns carrying the scoring load after opening the game struggling to put the ball through the basket.
Freshman forward Jarace Walker continued his stellar play doing a little bit of everything against SMU. He hit 3-pointers, had some strong finishes, put-back slams, alley-oop dunks, beautiful assists, and even had a highlight reel-worthy missed jam when he was fouled by SMU senior guard Zach Nutall.
Junior forward J’Wan Roberts had his stretch during the evening in which he did damage against the Mustangs in the paint with some floaters and hook shots. Roberts ended the game with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Junior guard Jamal Shead then had his run toward the end of the first half, which included going on his own personal 7-0 scoring spree that helped make him UH’s leading scorer at the break and lifted the Cougars to a 43-29 lead at halftime.
The Cougars opened the second half with a loud bang when Shead got into the heart of SMU’s defense off a screen set by senior big man Reggie Chaney. Driving into the paint, the Mustangs went up toward Shead, who then lofted the basketball up in the air for Walker, who caught it and threw it down with authority.
Senior guard Marcus Sasser got it going in the second half. He hit two 3-pointers and multiple free throws to get up to double digits in scoring. The Dallas native ended the game with 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists against SMU.
Sasser had a couple of backbreaking plays against SMU toward the mid-to-late second half. First, he shot an off-balance jumper from just inside the 3-point line that barely grazed the iron of the rim, but he immediately followed it and secured the offensive rebound. Sasser then kicked it out to an open Walker, who hit a 3-pointer that extended UH’s lead to 20 points.
On the next possession, Sasser hit a step-back 3-pointer off the heels of a solid crossover that got Houston’s bench up and excited and left the All-American guard letting SMU’s players know just how nasty that play had been. Houston led 66-43, and the Sasser-fueled run seemed like a demoralizer for SMU.
The Mustangs, however, rallied toward the end of the game and cut UH’s lead to just 12 multiple times to make the Cougars have to keep their starters on the floor. Ultimately, SMU (9-18, 4-10 AAC) never got within single digits despite getting within 11 points with under two minutes left in the game.
Redshirt freshman guard Emanuel Sharp impressed against SMU with multiple hustle plays throughout the night. The sharpshooter hit two 3-pointers in the win. He also had three offensive rebounds against the Mustangs.
Shead had 13 points and eight assists for Houston. Redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark had 11 points. Walker had 14 points and four rebounds.
The Houston Cougars basketball team will return to the floor on Sunday afternoon when it hosts Memphis at 2 p.m. at Fertitta Center. The game will be on ESPN.