Sasser, cold-shooting No. 2 Houston outlast Kent State 49-44

Nov 25, 2022, 11:54 PM | Updated: Nov 26, 2022, 2:43 pm
Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) is defended by Kent State guard Sincere Carry (3) during the second...

Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) is defended by Kent State guard Sincere Carry (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

(AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

              Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) is defended by Kent State guard Sincere Carry (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Kent State guard Sincere Carry (3) is blocked by Houston forward Jarace Walker (25) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Kent State forward Miryne Thomas (33) shoots over Houston forward Jarace Walker (25) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Houston guard Marcus Sasser, right, hits a basket over Kent State guard Sincere Carry (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Kent State, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Houston guard Tramon Mark (12), right, draws a foul from Kent State forward VonCameron Davis (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
            
              Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Kent State, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

HOUSTON (AP) — Marcus Sasser scored 19 points, J’Wan Roberts added 11 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 2 Houston held on to beat Kent State 49-44 on Saturday and give itself an opportunity to take over the No. 1 ranking.

Sasser was 8 of 8 from the free-throw line to overcome a 5-of-16 shooting performance, including 1 of 10 on 3-pointers. Houston (6-0) shot 32% from the floor and was 2 of 17 on 3s.

“That’s the first time all year someone has punched us in the mouth,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We’re used to punching other people in the mouth around here.”

Sampson, who won his 705th career game, has never had a team ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

“Sitting here with an opportunity, whether we are or not after today, who knows, I don’t know,” Sampson said. “Obviously, I’m happy for all the guys who came before us. North Carolina has been No. 1 more times than I’ve been alive, so it’s no big deal to them, but it should be a big deal to us.”

The Cougars’ defense carried them, holding the Golden Flashes to 24% shooting, including 6 of 29 from beyond the arc. Houston outrebounded Kent State 56-33 and held a 28-18 advantage in points in the paint.

“There was a really, really tough team on the floor today, but it just happened to be coach (Rob) Senderoff’s team,” Sampson said. “I was proud of the win. I’m not going to throw it away, mind you. You can do whatever narratives you want. A month from now it’s going to count as a win. I’m proud of the way we kept fighting. We outrebounded that team by 23. Soft teams don’t do that. We play tough, too. Their defense kept pushing us out.”

After Malique Jacobs nailed a 3-pointer with 1:05 left to give the Golden Flashes a 44-43 lead, Jamal Shead made a layup to put Houston back ahead with 48 seconds remaining. Jarace Walker blocked a layup by Sincere Carry with 34 seconds left, and Sasser made two free throws with 29 seconds remaining.

Giovanni Santiago and Carry missed 3-point attempts for Kent State, and Sasser got the rebound with 13 seconds left. Sasser made both free throws to ice the game.

“We came in here trying to win, so we are disappointed we didn’t finish the job,” Senderoff said. “We went toe to toe, blow for blow for 40 minutes, and they made one more play at the end of the day.”

VonCameron Davis scored 14 points and Jacobs had 11 points for Kent State (5-2).

“Our guys’ competitiveness on the defensive end, that’s what kept us in the game,” Senderoff said. “That’s what our calling card is. That’s part of why we wanted to play this game was because we knew what we were getting into. Just one play short.”

Trailing by nine, the Golden Flashes went on an 11-2 run to tie it at 41 on a 3-pointer by Davis with three minutes left, but Sasser answered with a jumper with 1 1/2 minutes left to put Houston up by two.

BIG PICTURE

Kent State: The Golden Flashes built a 15-5 lead by turning defense into offense, converting eight Houston turnovers into eight points. Kent State had long shooting droughts in both halves, finishing the first half missing its last 15 shots and enduring a 1-of-18 stretch in the second half.

Houston: The Cougars started slowly, going nearly seven minutes without a field goal after a layup by Roberts 1:20 into the game. Houston scored a season-low 24 points in the first half and missed its first 11 3-pointers before Tramon Mark and Sasser hit back-to-back 3s early in the second half. The Cougars committed a season-high 23 turnovers.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 1 North Carolina and No. 3 Kansas both lost this week, giving Houston a chance at the top spot. The Cougars haven’t been No. 1 since the final three polls of the 1982-83 season.

UP NEXT

Kent State: Hosts South Dakota State on Friday.

Houston: Hosts Norfolk State on Tuesday.

___

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Chelsea's Pedro, left, and Newcastle United's Christian Atsu vie for the ball during the Eng...
Associated Press

Former Chelsea forward Atsu missing after Turkey earthquake

Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu is missing and believed to be trapped under rubble following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday and left more than 2,500 people dead. The Ghana international, who plays for Turkish club Hatayspor, is thought to be in a building that was destroyed, Hatayspor spokesman Mustafa Özat […]
2 days ago
FILE - Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, walks back to the bench as head coach Darvin...
Associated Press

LeBron’s Los Angeles era, as told by coach Darvin Ham

(Editors’ Note: Darvin Ham is in his first season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a longtime NBA assistant coach and as a player helped the Detroit Pistons win the NBA title in 2004.) When I got hired to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the first things that I saw […]
2 days ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady stands on the field before an NFL football game against ...
Associated Press

Brady will not move into Fox announcing booth until 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Brady will not go immediately from the playing field to the broadcast booth. Brady told Colin Cowherd during Monday’s episode of “The Herd” on FS1 and Fox Sports Radio that he will not start his broadcasting career with Fox until the 2024 season. The seven-time Super Bowl champion — who […]
2 days ago
FILE - Miami Heat's Mike Miller, left, Shane Battier, center, and LeBron James, right, watch from t...
Associated Press

LeBron’s Miami era, as told by teammate Shane Battier

(Editor’s Note: Shane Battier is a former Miami Heat teammate of LeBron James, who is poised to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Battier played in the NBA for 13 seasons, the last three of them with James in Miami. He shared some memorable moments with The Associated Press of what he witnessed during their […]
2 days ago
FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, is congratulated by Kevin Love, after Jame's 867th...
Associated Press

LeBron’s Cleveland era, as told by teammate Kevin Love

(Editor’s Note: Kevin Love is a five-time All-Star and former Cleveland teammate with LeBron James, who is set to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Love played four seasons with James and won the title with him in 2016, when the Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win Cleveland’s first professional sports […]
2 days ago
Justin Rose, of England, reacts after making an eagle putt on the sixth green of the Pebble Beach G...
Associated Press

Justin Rose wins at Pebble Beach to end 4-year drought

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Justin Rose took all the drama out of a long week with three quick birdies that sent him to a three-shot victory Monday in the wind-delayed AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, ending four years without winning and making him eligible for the Masters. Rose played it safe down the closing holes, […]
2 days ago
Sasser, cold-shooting No. 2 Houston outlast Kent State 49-44