Freshman guard Marcus Sasser scored a game-high 21 points in Cougars' win over the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Cougars reclaim top seed in win over Cincinnati

After dropping two of their previous three games, the No. 25 Houston Cougars picked up a much-need victory on Sunday in a 68-55 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats inside the Frittata Center in Houston. With the win, the Cougars improve to 12-4 in conference play (22-7) to reclaim their spot atop of the American Athletic Conference.

"To win by shooting 36% with 22 offensive rebounds, it proves that these kids have learned how to win without making shots," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win. "It speaks volumes to this group of kids, and this is something we have preached since day one."

Despite the win, the Cougars struggled with their shoot from the floor as it became one of their worst shooting performances of the season. Marcus Sasser led the way with a game-high 21 points in 33 minutes, as the sharpshooting guard recorded a dozen in the final period shooting 8-for-16 (50%) from the field, 5-for-12 (41.6%) from 3-point range. UH led 49-44 when Sasser scored nine straight points for Houston during a 15-5 run to extend their second-half lead.

Houston trailed 30-25 when freshman guard Caleb Mills connected on a 3-point field goal to pull the Cougars within two points. Following the shot, Houston closed out the half on a 13-1 run to take a 38-31 lead into the halftime break. Houston's defense was on full display throughout the second half, as the Cougars held the Bearcats to 24 points while shooting 24% from the field, and a disastrous 9.0% from behind the arc.

"We knew how high the stakes were coming into the game and the importance of it," sophomore guard Nate Hinton said. "Trying to make winning plays were the biggest emphasis, and we had to stick to that mindset."

In addition to Sasser, Hinton added in 16 points and seven rebounds, while Mills poured in 15 in the win. The Cougars pulled down 43 boards as senior big man Chris Harris recorded 11 rebounds and four blocks.

In the loss, Tre Scott led the Bearcats with 17 points, while Jarron Cumberland added in 11 points shooting 1-for-7 from the field, 1-for-5 from 3-point range.

Up next, the Cougars will travel to Connecticut to take on the 17-12, 8-8 UConn Huskies, Thursday, inside the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. Tip-off is slated for 6 P.M. CT.

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