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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Kyler Edwards stat-stuffing night and Houston's defense overwhelm East Carolina, 79-36

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POSTED: January 22, 2022 -- 10:10 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX -- (Fertitta Center)

On February 3, 2021, ECU defeated Houston 82-73 for its first victory over a top 5 ranked team in program history.

Saturday evening, January 22, 2022, the Houston Cougars (17-2 overall, 6-0 in The American) made sure the East Carolina Pirates did not get 2 consecutive wins over the Coogs with an absolute demolition of the Pirates in a 79-36 rout.

Houston's defense set the tone throughout the 1st half. Houston scored the first 10 points of the game and never looked back. ECU did not score its first points of the game until the 15:18 mark of the opening half.

Houston went on a 13-0 to lead 23-2 before ECU scored 2 more points with 11:37 on the clock. Houston held ECU scoreless the next 6 minutes while Taze Moore, Josh Carlton and Kyler Edwards each scored to stretch Houston's lead to 32-4.

The Coogs led 44-14 at halftime. Kyler Edwards outscored ECU 17-14 in the first half.

Houston shot 50% (16/32 fgs) in the first half including 6 for 11 on three-point attempts and only 3 turnovers.

The Coogs scored an astounding 1.517 pts per possession in the opening 20 minutes.

On the other side, ECU made 3 of 26 field goal attempts including 0 for 10 three-point tries. The Pirates also had 9 turnovers.

In the first half, ECU scored on 7 of 34 possessions with a moribund 0.412 pts per possession and a 26.5 turnover percentage.

The rout was on.

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Houston's defense wasn't as intense the first few minutes of the second half: ECU scored 7 points in the first 4 minutes; however, Houston's offense matched ECU's 7 points to lead 51-21 with 16:34 left in the game.

Houston's led by as much as 43 in the second and never led by less than 30 the final 16 minutes of the game.

"I thought this was the best defense this team has played," Kelvin Sampson, Houston Head Coach said after the game. "We had some games like this back in November and December; but, this team hasn't done that; but, tonight, they did. I was proud of their effort."

The Pirates finished the game 1 for 19 from three-point range and just 16% (8 for 50) overall from the floor.

"Tonight is one of the nights where we are not as good as we play," Coach Sampson said. "And, they are not as bad as they play."

Kyler Edwards stat line for the game: 25 points (7/13 fgs -- 6/11 threes); 5/5 fts; 8 rebounds; 7 assists; 0 turnovers in 27 minutes.

The 6-0 start in American Athletic Conference play is only the fourth time in the history of the Houston Cougars men's basketball program and the first time since the 1983-84 season.

Houston's next game is next Saturday, January 29, in Orlando, FL, against the UCF Knights. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time on ESPN2.

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