No. 6 Houston survives close call against Xavier
LJ Cryer scored a game-high 23 points while Jamal Shead added 13 to lead the sixth-ranked Houston Cougars past the host Xavier Musketeers 66-60 Friday night in a Big East-Big 12 Battle contest in Cincinnati.
J'Wan Roberts had 12 rebounds to go with nine points for the Cougars (8-0), who were playing their first true road game of the year.
Quincy Olivari scored 17 points while Desmond Claude added 14 for the Musketeers (4-4). The game was slowed in the second half by 33 personal fouls and a technical on Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. In all, 50 fouls were called in the contest.
Houston entered the game with an average winning margin of 27.3 points, with its closest victory coming by 10 points against Utah on Nov. 17. The Cougars started out strong again Friday, scoring the first six points and racing to a 12-2 lead on three straight 3-pointers from Cryer.
Houston's defense smothered Xavier early on, forcing back-to-back shot-clock violations midway through the half while jumping out to a 16-8 lead.
But the Cougars went on a scoring drought of nearly five minutes before Shead converted a pair of free throws with 10:22 left to restore Houston's lead to 18-10.
The Musketeers scored seven of the next nine points as part of a 21-8 run that put them ahead 25-24 on a two free throws by Claude with six minutes left in the half.
The Cougars took a 36-31 into the break but came out on fire in the second half.
After Xavier's Abou Ousmane layup cut the lead to three, Houston scored the next 10 points. The burst was sparked by 3-pointers from Cryer and Shead, who drilled his as the shot clock expired. Houston led 46-33 with just over 16 minutes left when Xavier went on another spurt.
The Musketeers outscored the Cougars 10-0, with Sampson picking up a technical foul in the middle of the run.
Houston finally ended its eight-plus-minute stretch without a field goal when Cryer's pullup jumper fell to put Houston back up 51-49.
Claude's two free throws with 6:56 remaining put Xavier ahead 52-51. Emanuel Sharp's two free throws put Houston up to stay 53-52 with 6:34 left. Sharp finished with 10 points.
--Field Level Media
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