No. 3 Houston converts turnovers into 71-65 win over UCF

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON – Tramon Mark scored 19 points, Marcus Sasser had 18 points and No. 3 Houston held on for a 71-65 win over Central Florida on Saturday.

J’Wan Roberts added 12 points and Jamal Shead scored 11 points for Houston (14-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference). The Cougars shot 38%, including 6 of 19 on 3-pointers.

Houston forced 13 UCF turnovers and converted them into 20 points.

Darius Johnson had 17 points and eight rebounds, Ithiel Horton and Taylor Hendricks each scored 14 points and C.J. Kelly scored 11 points for the Knights (10-4, 1-1). UCF shot 39%, including 6 of 27 on 3-pointers.

Trailing by two with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, Houston went on an 8-0 streak to take a 60-54 lead with 5:42 remaining on a three-point play by Roberts, who scored all eight points on the run. The Knights responded with a 7-2 spurt to cut the lead to one on a free throw by Kelly with three minutes left.

After two free throws by Ja’Vier Francis increased Houston’s lead to three, Horton missed two 3-pointers and Sasser made 1 of 2 free throws with a minute left to put Houston up 65-61.

UCF turned the ball over on its next possession, and Shead hit two free throws to up the lead to six with 32 seconds remaining.

In the first half, following a jumper by Francis with 12:42 remaining, Johnson hooked Mark and threw him down in the paint. As Mark was trying to get up, Johnson pushed Mark down. Johnson was whistled for a flagrant one foul on the play.

The play fired up Mark, who scored 13 points during a 23-6 run over the next 6 1/2 minutes to give Houston a 32-18 lead. The Cougars led 39-31 at the half, but the Knights went on a 15-3 run to open up a 46-42 lead in the second with 15 minutes left.


UCF: The Knights missed a chance for a Quad 1 win and are 1-2 in Quad 1 opportunities this season. . All four of UCF’s losses this season have been by six points or less. . UCF was 17 of 20 from the free-throw line.

HOUSTON: The Cougars earned another Quad 2 victory and improved to 6-1 this season in Quad 1/Quad 2 games. . Houston started 11 of 20 shooting but followed it up shooting 13 of 44 for the rest of the game.


Houston should at least hold at No. 3 but could rise to No. 2 following UConn’s loss.


UCF: At East Carolina on Wednesday.

HOUSTON: Hosts SMU on Thursday.

Pre-dawn shooting at University of New Mexico kills 1

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A 19-year-old man was killed and a 21-year-old man was wounded in a predawn shooting Saturday at the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, where police said it was not an active shooting or a threat to others on campus.

School officials called off a basketball game scheduled with in-state rival New Mexico State.

The shooting took place about 3 a.m. and the wounded man was taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, police said. His condition was not immediately disclosed.

Albuquerque police called the shooting “a singular incident” and not a threat to other students on campus.

“This is not an active shooter,” the department said.

The university issued alerts overnight notifying the campus community that the shooting happened near Alvarado Hall, a student dormitory.

University and Albuquerque police are investigating the shooting. State police said the investigation was in the preliminary stages, but that authorities did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the community.

Steve Kirkland, University of New Mexico athletic director, said in a statement that officials from both schools decided to postpone the evening basketball game.

“Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this tragedy,” the statement said, adding that details would be released later about rescheduling the game and refunds.

The Rio Grande Rivalry matchup between the Lobos (3-0) and the Aggies (1-1) had been scheduled at 5 p.m. local time at The Pit, where the athletic department said more than 13,000 tickets had been sold.

AAC player of year Battles transferring from UCF to Georgia

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

ATHENS, Ga. — American Athletic Conference player of the year Diamond Battles is following her coach to Georgia.

The Lady Bulldogs announced Monday that Battles is transferring from Central Florida, allowing her to continue playing for new Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.

Battles was a unanimous choice to the All-AAC first team this past season, also claiming defensive player of the year and MVP honors in the league tournament.

She will be a fifth-year senior for the Lady Bulldogs, who are preparing for their first season under the former UCF coach. Abrahamson-Henderson was hired by Georgia after Joni Taylor left for Texas A&M.

“Diamond Battles is one of the nation’s most elite players, and I look forward to seeing the impact she will have on this program,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She is a relentless defender who can score and distribute the basketball as a next-level point guard. She is also a leader and someone teammates love to play with.”

The 5-foot-8 Battles led the Knights with 13.9 points per game to go along with 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals. UCF won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles, earned its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament and finished 26-4.

Battles also played a major role in the nation’s top-ranked defense. UCF allowed just 47.8 points per game.

Fudd helps UConn advance 52-47 over UCF in defensive battle

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. — Freshman Azzi Fudd scored 16 points and hit two key free throws late as No. 2 seed UConn outfought No. 7 seed UCF 52-47 in a defensive slugfest Monday night to advance to an NCAA record 28th straight Sweet 16.

Christyn Williams added 12 points and Paige Bueckers had nine for the Huskies (27-5), who have not allowed an opponent to score more than 51 points in their last 10 games.

“It was a battle the whole game,” Williams said. “We just tried to throw the first punch and keep punching them.”

Diamond Battles scored 12 points, Brittney Smith added 11 and Tay Sanders had 10 for UCF (26-4), which saw its season end along with a 14-game winning streak.

These two former American Athletic Conference foes knew each other well and the Knights weren’t intimidated playing in front of a loud sold-out Connecticut crowd where the students were cheering baskets made in pregame warmups.

The Huskies led by just three points at halftime, but extended that to 12 points midway through the fourth quarter.

They led by 10 before Sanders 3-pointer from the left corner with 3 1/2 minutes remaining made it 48-41 and started the Knight’s final push.

UCF closed the gap to three points twice, the last time when Williams fouled Smith with 15.1 seconds left and the 6-foot-3 post hit her foul shots to cut the deficit to 50-47.

But Sanders fouled Fudd on the other end and the freshman calmly made her free throws to seal the win.

The game was extremely physical, with both teams pressing and playing lock-down defense. There were 45 fouls called, 24 on UCF.

The Knights held UConn to just 14 baskets on 48 shots (29.2%), but hit just 16 of their 46 (34.8%) UCF also struggled from the foul line, going just 10 of 20.

“This was a rather new experience for me, coach Geno Auriemma said. “It was what we thought it would be it was going to be really difficult and it was going to be ugly looking and it was.

“We could have easily let that game get away from us and we didn’t,” he said.


UCF: The Knights have had the most successful season in school history, winning the AAC regular season and tournament titles, earning their first Top 25 ranking, notching their first NCAA Tournament win and beating in-state rival Florida for the first time ever after 26 straight losses. Monday’s loss was the Knights first in 15 games.

UConn: UConn, which beat mercer 83-38 in the first round, improves to 18-3 as a No. 2 seed and 29-2 all-time in the second round, where they last lost in 1992. They fell in the first round a year later. The Huskies move on the Sweet 16, where they have not lost since falling to Stanford in 2005.


UConn will face Indiana in Bridgeport on Saturday.

Jarreau gets triple-double, No. 7 Houston tops Tulane in AAC

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas — DeJon Jarreau was headed to the locker room after the first triple-double for Houston in almost 30 years when coach Kelvin Sampson echoed what other coaches have been telling him.

They thought the senior guard could get one before he left.

Jarreau finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists, leading the No. 7 Cougars to a 77-52 victory over Tulane in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday night.

It was the first triple-double for the Cougars since Bo Outlaw had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks against Texas A&M on Feb. 17, 1993. The feat was also a first for the American tournament, which is being played for the seventh time.

“The fact that it happens very seldom in college tells you how special the guys are who do get them,” Sampson said. “I’m so happy for him because that’s going to be a memory. His unselfishness, his toughness, those are the things that show in triple-doubles.”

Quentin Grimes scored 15 points and Marcus Sasser added 14 as each connected on four 3-pointers to help the Cougars (22-3) recover from a cold-shooting first half from long range.

Justin Gorham had 11 points and seven rebounds for Houston, which will play the UCF-Memphis winner in the semifinals Saturday night.

Kevin Cross scored 11 points for the 10th-seeded Green Wave (10-13), who stayed with a Top 10 team into the second half after beating seventh-seeded Tulsa 77-70 in the first round.

“I thought the second half they just came out and just wore us down,” coach Ron Hunter said. “We’ve gotten better. The future is bright for these kids. We don’t have enough right now, but we will one day.”

While Houston never trailed, the nation’s third-best team in scoring margin had trouble building a comfortable lead because of 13 misses in its final 15 attempts from 3-point range in the first half, including eight in a row.

The Cougars were 6 of 22 from 3 when Grimes made one for their first 10-point lead at 48-38. On Houston’s next possession, Sasser hit another shot from long range for a 51-40 lead.

Sasser, who was 4 of 8 from 3-point range while Grimes went 4 of 9, later connected for a 60-42 lead with seven minutes remaining as the Cougars outscored the Green Wave 44-23 in the second half.

Grimes and Sasser combined to make five of six from long range in the second half, and Jarreau assisted on the first three.

“I always love to see my teammates score,” said Jarreau, who had nine assists four times previously. “Makes me feel like I score. When I pass the ball and I think it’s a good shot, I’m even yelling to shoot it. I think that gives them confidence as well, alongside their work.”

Jarreau was a rebound shy of a triple-double when he re-entered the game with 4:16 to go. Shortly thereafter, his 10th defensive rebound secured the first triple-double in the conference in two years.

“Even when I thought Houston was struggling early, he made every single play to kind of keep them around until they could blow the game open,” Hunter said. “If he can play this way, I think they’re hard to beat.”


Tulane: The Green Wave wrapped up a seventh straight losing season with a freshman and three sophomores in their starting five. When he took the Tulane job two years ago, Hunter had one losing record in his previous 18 seasons at IUPUI and Georgia State. The first-half showing against the Cougars offers hope that Tulane’s losing run can end in 2021-22.

Houston: The Cougars entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 37% before Tulane made five of six shots to start the game. It didn’t last for the Green Wave. They ended up at 37% for the game. Tulane was 8 of 18 on free throws.


A reporter told Jarreau after the game he had just talked to Outlaw, who wanted to congratulate the New Orleans native. Jarreau responded by saying a member of the coaching staff had been mentioning Outlaw to him.

“They were always kind of reminding me because they thought I was capable,” said Jarreau, who had teammates counting down the rebounds for him in the second half. “Tell him I appreciate it, and I’m happy I was the next one to do it.”


Tulane had two chances in the first half to take what would have been its first lead when trailing by a point. Tylan Pope missed from inside the arc on the first, and R.J. McGee later couldn’t connect on a 3.


Houston is looking for a third straight trip to the American championship game.

No. 11 Houston uses big first half to cruise past UCF 75-58

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Images

HOUSTON — Quentin Grimes scored 18 points, Justin Gorham added 15 points and nine rebounds and No. 11 Houston used a dominant first half to cruise to a 75-58 win over UCF on Sunday.

Grimes scored in double figures for his 11th straight game after opening the season with eight points against Lamar. Houston (11-1, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) won its fourth straight game since its loss to Tulsa.

The Cougars shot 42%, including 8 of 25 on 3-pointers. Houston forced UCF into 20 turnovers, which the Cougars turned into 22 points.

Jamille Reynolds scored 14 points, and Dre Fuller Jr. and Darin Green Jr. each had 12 points for UCF (3-5, 1-4). The Knights, who lost their fourth straight, shot 44%, including 4 of 19 on 3-pointers. UCF went over 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half.

Houston jumped out to a 38-9 lead capped by a three-point play from Brison Gresham with 3:43 left in the half.

The Cougars started the game with four straight 3-pointers – two by DeJon Jarreau and one apiece from Grimes and Marcus Sasser – and hit eight of their first 10 field goals. Grimes and Sasser each had eight points in the game-opening run.

Houston led 45-19 at halftime.


UCF: The Knights were without guard Darius Perry for a second straight game. UCF lost its third consecutive game against Houston and seventh in the last eight meetings. Brandon Mahan had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Houston: The Cougars played their first game in eight days. Their game at South Florida on Jan. 14 was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the USF program. Houston won its 18th straight game at home.


Houston coach Kelvin Sampson earned his 650th career win, moving him into sole possession of 41st place on the NCAA wins list. Sampson passed former Houston coach Tom Penders.


UCF: Hosts SMU on Saturday.

Houston: Hosts Tulsa on Wednesday.