Galen Robinson Jr. scored 18 points, and Rob Gray made big shots down the stretch as No. 21 Houston pulled away from Central Florida for an 84-56 win Friday in American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal action in Orlando, Fla.
Gray hit two difficult layups, and Corey Davis Jr. followed with a dagger 3-pointer from the corner to put the Cougars in complete control, leading 68-49 with four minutes to play.
Gray scored 17 points, and Devin Davis had a big first half and finished with 16 points
Houston (25-6) has won four straight and is poised to end a seven-year NCAA Tournament drought. The Cougars are projected as a top-six seed and have a chance to enhance their resume Saturday, when they face No. 11 Wichita State in an AAC tournament semifinal showdown. The Shockers and Cougars split their two meetings in the regular season, with each team winning on their own floor.
B.J. Taylor finished with 20 points for UCF, and Ceasar DeJesus added 10 points.
The Cougars took command midway through the first half. Davis hit a jumper, and Breaon Brady followed with a three-point play to give Houston a 26-15 lead with nine minutes to go before halftime. Armoni Brooks hit two 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the half, sending the Cougars into the locker room with a 40-27 lead.
UCF (19-13) exceeded expectations this season under coach Johnny Dawkins and would seem like a candidate for the NIT. The Knights rank third in the nation in points allowed, despite losing 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall to injury late in the year and being without Taylor for two months. Taylor, the team’s leading-scorer, injured his ankle in the season-opener and didn’t return until mid-January.
The Knights couldn’t hold down hot-shooting Houston, though. The Cougars shot 54.7 percent from the floor and outrebounded UCF 35-27. Houston’s 84 points were the most given up by the Knights all season.
—Field Level Media