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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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Roberts and Shead lead Houston to gritty 67-62 win at Cincinnati

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POSTED: February 10, 2024 -- 11:33 p.m. CT

CINCINNATI, OH -- Fifth Third Arena

The Houston Cougars earned off a gritty 67-62 road win over the Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday afternoon to improve to 21-3 overall and 8-3 in the Big 12 Conference.

Houston veteran forward J'Wan Roberts scored a season-high 20 points (10 for 15 fgs) in Houston's win. Roberts scored 12 of his 20 points in the second-half including a layup with 4 minutes to a go and a dunk in the final 6 seconds to seal Houston's 5 point victory.

Jamal Shead scored a 16 points (6 for 25 fgs) in Saturday's game; and, he dished out 3 of his 4 assists in the second half to help the Coogs erase a halftime deficit.

"There was a time in the second half I was only playing through two people," Kelvin Sampson, Houston Head Coach said after the game. "And, that was Wan (J'Wan Roberts) and Mal (Jamal Shead)."

Houston trailed Cincinnati 32-29 at halftime. The Coogs led the Bearcats by as much as 13 points in the first half; however, Houston battled foul trouble to numerous players and missed 12 consecutive field goals over an 8-minute stretch. Cincinnati outscored Houston 15-1 to lead 32-27 before Roberts ended Houston's field goal drought with a putback layup with 3 seconds remaining in the first half.

Houston's 12 consecutive misses contributed to 27.3 fg% (9 for 33) shooting in the first half. At one point in the first half, Houston dominated Cincinnati on the boards 11-1; however, Houston's rebounding edge was just 21-17 at halftime.

Cincinnati (15-8, 4-6) led 38-31 with 17:19 to go in the second half when Shead scored 5 points during a 7-0 Houston run to the game at 38 with 15:46 on the clock.

Then, Roberts rebounded a Shead miss and dunked for a 40-38 Houston lead. Cincinnati tied the game at 40; however, Houston guard Emanuel Sharp scored a driving layup and Roberts scored a layup for a 44-40 lead.

Shead's starting backcourt mate, LJ Cryer, picked up his 4th foul with 16 minutes to go in the second half; and, Mylik Wilson came into the game for Cryer.

Wilson contributed 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in the second half.

"Wilson, we watch him practice every day," Coach Sampson said of Mylik Wilson. "He's got some winning DNA. He's got intangibles.

"He made some big plays today."

Shead sank a stepback jumper for a 48-41 Houston lead then Roberts made layup to increase Houston's lead to 50-41 with 9:17 remaining in the game.

The Coogs led the Bearcats 58-48 with 4:05 on the clock; however, Cincinnati outscored Houston 11-3 to cut Houston's lead to 2 (61-59) with 1:41 remaining.

After a Houston timeout, LJ Cryer returned to the game for Mylik Wilson. With the shot clock winding down, Cryer drove to the basket and made a fadeaway, one-hand floater to boost Houston's lead to 63-59.

After Roberts blocked a layup by Cincinnati's freshman point guard Jizzle James, Houston big man Ja'Vier Francis had a putback slam dunk for a 65-59 Houston lead with just 35 seconds left in the game.

Roberts picked up a foul defending Cincinnati's John Newman III. Newman split the 2 foul shots. Houston led 65-60 with 27 seconds to go. LJ Cryer was fouled and went to the line for a 1-and-1. Cryer missed his first attempt; and, Jizzle James scored a driving layup to cut Houston's lead to 65-62 with 14 seconds left on the clock.

After a Cincinnati timeout, Emanuel Sharp caught the inbounds in the corner. Sharp was double-teamed but not fouled. Sharp passed out of the double-team to Mylik Wilson; and, Wilson quickly passed the ball into the frontcourt to a wide open Roberts. Roberts dunked for a 67-62 lead with 6 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Coogs.

Houston made 18 of 36 shots in the second half and out-rebounded Cincinnati 38-22 in the paint for the game.

NEXT: Houston's next game is Saturday, February 17, at home, against the Texas Longhorns. Tip is set for 12 pm CT on CBS.

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