Marcus Sasser appeared simply high-quality, scoring 22 factors, and top-seeded Houston stifled native favourite Auburn within the second half for an 81-64 victory within the NCAA Tournament Saturday night time.
The Cougars (33-3) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit, returning after the break with a chip on their shoulders.
Essentially shutting down the lane, Houston performed with the desperation of a nationwide championship contender that wasn’t able to undergo the identical destiny as Purdue and Kansas — No. 1s that already have been despatched house.
Led by Tramon Mark with 26 factors, Houston superior to face both No. 4 Indiana or No. 5 Miami, which play Sunday, within the Sweet 16 in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Tigers (21-13) have been doomed by a stretch of greater than 10½ minutes with no subject purpose and completed simply 4 of 24 from the sphere within the second half.
Auburn did draw loads of fouls, solely to wrestle mightily on the line at 19 of 36. Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome led the Tigers with 14 factors apiece.
Sasser had handled a groin damage over the previous week, however that did not appear to trigger him any issues. When he swished a 3-pointer to push Houston again forward, 46-45, he let loose an emphatic scream on his method again down the court docket.
He completed 5 of 9 past the arc.
Sasser’s solely subject was foul hassle. The All-American guard and his working mate, level guard Jamal Shead, have been compelled to the bench with 4 fouls apiece with the sport nonetheless doubtful.
But Mark saved the Cougars proper on rolling offensively, and the Jarace Walker-led protection simply refused to let Auburn again within the recreation.
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Houston had 12 blocks, half of them swatted away by Walker. Houston scored the ultimate 9 factors to blow it open on the finish, with Sasser delivering one other key shot from past the 3-point stripe.
Auburn ripped off a 17-4 run over the ultimate 5½ minutes of the primary half. Williams scored eight of these factors, swishing a 3-pointer and in addition changing a three-point play.
Houston missed six of its final eight photographs within the half, its solely baskets approaching a pair of layups.
But the Cougars wouldn’t be denied, even with the Tigers having a home-state edge. Legacy Arena in Birmingham is just a few two-hour drive from their east Alabama campus.
Auburn: The Tigers wrapped up an inconsistent season in applicable vogue. They final received back-to-back video games Jan. 18 and 21, closing out the season by successful solely 5 of their final 15 video games.
Houston: Sasser now has loads of time to relaxation his groin, which ought to give him much more confidence he isn’t going to have any extra issues.
Houston is heading to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time within the final 5 years beneath Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars have by no means received a nationwide title, regardless of six appearances within the Final Four.
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