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No. 1 Houston Pulls Away Late


By Wichita State University Athletics


HOUSTON, Texas ( – Wichita State hung around with No. 1 Houston for more than 30 minutes Thursday evening at the Fertitta Center but eventually succumbed to turnovers, missed free throws and tired legs.

Jamal Shead scored a career-high 25 points and Marcus Sasser tacked on 24 for Houston (28-2, 16-1), which played from behind for most of the first half before outscoring the Shockers 50-35 in the final period.

Craig Porter Jr. (17 points), Jaron Pierre Jr. (16) and Kenny Pohto (12) finished in double-figures for WSU (15-14, 8-9) which played without leading scorer Jaykwon Walton (illness) but still managed to shoot 64.9% from the field against a Cougar team that came in leading the nation in field goal percentage defense (.358).

WSU was 22-of-30 (.733) from the floor near the 5:00-mark of the second half but missed 5 of its last 7 shots to fall short of the school record, set 35 years ago against Austin Peay (26/39, .667 on Dec. 17, 1987).

The Shockers weren’t nearly as accurate at the foul line (12-of-21) or with their passing, committing 20 turnovers while forcing just 10.

Houston, meanwhile, shot 47.4% for the game, including 9-of-25 from three .360) and converted 20-of-22 free throws.

The loss snapped a five-game road winning streak for WSU and — coupled with fifth-place Temple’s Thursday night win over UCF — closed the door on any opportunity for a first round bye in next week’s American Athletic Conference Championship in Fort Worth.

The Shockers play host to South Florida on Sunday afternoon to close out the regular season (1 p.m. CT, ESPNU). A victory would lock up the No. 6 seed.