January 17, 2019 / 4:31 AM / 6 months ago

Sampson reaches milestones as No. 21 Houston tops SMU

EditorsNote: Added “host” in lede graf; Changed 2:24 to 2:20 in 5th graf

Kelvin Sampson reached two milestones with one win Wednesday night when No. 21 Houston used its cornerstone — strong defense — to turn host SMU away in a 69-58 American Athletic Conference win at Dallas.

Holding the Mustangs (11-6, 3-2) to 38.2 percent shooting from the field and 5-for-24 accuracy from the 3-point line, the Cougars (17-1, 4-1) presented Sampson with his 100th win at Houston and his 600th Division I victory.

Three players reached double figures for the Cougars, led by Corey Davis Jr.’s 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field. Armoni Brooks scored 19, going 5 of 10 from the 3-point line, and Fabian White Jr. added 11 points.

Jimmy Whitt Jr. played a fine all-around game off the bench for SMU, finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Isiaha Mike tallied 15 points while Jahmal McMurray added 11. Ethan Chargois scored 10 points and pulled in 12 rebounds.

Houston never trailed and led by as many as 17 points in the second half, although the Mustangs made a late push and pulled within 64-55 at the 2:20 mark on Mike’s driving layup. But Brooks answered back by draining an NBA-range 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock with 1:46 left to restore a 12-point lead and seal the outcome.

The Cougars shot a respectable 45.5 percent from the field, including a solid 9 of 22 on 3-pointers, and committed only four turnovers.

Houston used its maturity and physical strength to push SMU around at every point, particularly in the game’s first seven minutes. when the Cougars established a 14-4 advantage on a putback dunk by White.

Houston lived off that lead for the remainder of the half, even as the Mustangs made minor runs that threatened the advantage. After McMurray drilled two free throws at the 4:59 mark to bring SMU within 19-16, the Cougars gradually gained more separation.

They finished the half with an 8-2 burst in 2:15, getting a 3-pointer from Brooks with seven seconds remaining to earn a 31-22 lead at intermission.

—Field Level Media

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