ORLANDO, Fla. — Marcus Sasser scored 19 points and Caleb Mills delivered seven of his 12 points in the closing minutes to help sixth-ranked Houston pull away to a 63-54 victory over UCF on Saturday.
The Cougars (7-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) overcame cold shooting by holding UCF (3-2, 1-1) to one field goal over the final 8:50 to remain unbeaten and deny the Knights a second win over a Top 25 opponent in a week.
As good as Houston was defensively down the stretch, though, UCF was just as tough on the Cougars. Mills was the only Houston player to score from the field in the final seven minutes, driving the baseline for a layup that made it 50-45 and adding a three-point play that put his team up 57-48 with just over a minute to go.
The Cougars went 11 for 11 from the foul line in the final 2:24 to put the game away. Dejon Jarreau hit the last four free throws to finish with 10 points.
Brandon Mahan led UCF with 13 points. Darin Green Jr. added 12.
Houston: The Cougars survived their first true road test of the season, improving to 3-0 since resuming play following a 15-day break due to COVID-19 concerns. Four games were either postponed or canceled during the stretch, including a scheduled home date against UCF on Dec. 15.
UCF: A week after beating then-No. 15 Florida State on the road, the Knights were unable to pull off another upset. In just over four seasons under coach Johnny Dawkins, UCF has won five games against ranked opponents. The Knights had three such wins total in the 22-year span prior to Dawkins’ arrival.
Houston: At Tulsa on Tuesday.
UCF: Remains at home to face conference rival Tulane on Wednesday.