Senior Corey Davis Jr. sank the go-ahead 3-pointer, and the No. 24 Houston Cougars remained unbeaten with a 68-64 victory over the visiting Saint Louis Billikens on Sunday.
The Cougars extended their home-court winning streak to 23 games — the second-longest in the nation — with clutch shooting and stout defense down the stretch. Davis’ 3 with 28.1 seconds left snapped a 63-63 tie and followed a defensive possession that featured a blocked shot by Cougars guard Dejon Jarreau with 48 seconds remaining.
Houston then prevented the Billikens from getting a clean look from behind the arc, and Davis sealed the win with two free throws.
The Billikens, facing their first ranked opponent since the 2014-15 season, were paced by senior guard Javon Bess’ 17 points. Senior guard Tramaine Isabell Jr. tallied 16 points off the bench for Saint Louis, while Jordan Goodwin posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Davis paired 17 points with six rebounds, while Armoni Brooks and Galen Robinson Jr. scored 13 points apiece for the Cougars. Brooks added eight rebounds; Jarreau scored 10 off the bench.
Brooks’ 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run by the Cougars and provided Houston a 50-42 lead with 10:47 to play, but, in keeping with the theme of the second half, the Billikens responded. They claimed a 63-60 lead when Goodwin converted a second-chance basket with 97 seconds remaining. Brooks’ free throw with 1:09 left tied the game.
The Cougars found an early rhythm against the Billikens’ stingy defense, connecting on 8 of 13 field goals while extending to a 19-10 lead on Davis’ 3-pointer with 12:01 left in the first half. But Saint Louis began tightening the screws defensively in the halfcourt and whittled the deficit by attacking the rim on offense, earning nine trips to the free-throw line prior to the break.
Saint Louis held the Cougars scoreless for just over four minutes while composing a 15-4 run to the lead. The Billikens pulled even on an Isabell 3 at the 5:13 mark, with Fabian White Jr. ending the drought for Houston with a jumper at the 3:32 mark that evened the score at 25 apiece.
Houston, despite shooting 3 of 13 after securing its nine-point lead and committing eight first-half turnovers, managed a 29-27 lead at the intermission. When the Billikens opened the second half with an 8-0 spurt, it signaled the start of an extended stretch of momentum swings.
—Field Level Media