Shead scores 21 points, Houston knocks out 1-seeded Arizona – WAVY.com
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Houston coach Kelvin Sampson gritted his teeth and raised his arms before forcefully slamming his right fist into his left hand 11 times while celebrating with ecstatic Cougars fans who weren’t not too far from home.
Another No. 1 seed is out, and Houston is poised to play its second straight Final Four after leading all the way to a 72-60 win over Arizona in a semi-final game. NCAA Southern Region Finals Thursday night.
“I knew we were going to make them uncomfortable, that’s what we do,” Sampson said. “Our team, we are a difficult group. … They are not afraid of anyone.
Jamal Shead, a 19-year-old sophomore guard, scored a career-high 21 points and veteran guard Kyler Edwards scored 19 points with five 3-pointers. They both played 38 minutes after Taze Moore had early foul trouble.
“We always feel like the toughest team and we play like that…. we can’t be afraid of anyone,” Shead said. “The energy was just electric. It was great to have that kind of audience here.
Back-to-back layups from Dalen Terry gave Arizona a 64-58 win with just over two minutes remaining. But Edwards, the transfer from Texas Tech who played in the 2019 national championship game for the Red Raiders, settled things for Houston with a 3 from right wing.
The No. 5 Cougars (32-5) take on second-seeded Villanova in the South Region Finals on Saturday in San Antonio, about 200 miles from the Houston campus.
Terry had 17 points for Arizona (33-4), while Pac-12 Player of the Year Bennedict Mathurin had 15 and Christian Koloko 10.
“It was a tough game. There are a lot of things we could have done better to win the game,” Mathurin said. “I don’t have much to say.”
The American Athletic Conference champion Cougars became the second former Southwest Conference team to knock out a No. 1 seed from this NCAA Tournament in hours. Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed overall, lost 74-68 to Arkansas, which went to the SEC in 1991, five years before the SWC’s final season.
These Cougars are very different from the ones Sampson won the Final Four last year – their first since going three straight during the Phi Slama Jama era from 1982 to 1984.
Houston lost four starters last season, then lost Marcus Sasser, the lone returner and leading scorer who broke his left foot before Christmas. Sophomore goaltender Tramon Mark had previously suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
Arizona had one of the least experienced teams in Division I this season; according to KenPom.com, the Wildcats average 0.63 years of experience, ranked 355th out of 358 teams. But they won 33 games and two of their losses were on the road during the regular season against the top 20 teams.
Those 33 wins left Tommy Lloyd one shy of the most in NCAA history for a freshman coach. He took over the Wildcats after 21 seasons as Mark Few’s assistant coach at Gonzaga.
“I think we’ve really built some fundamental pieces this year that will really serve us going forward. Extremely proud of the guys. Extremely proud of the coaching staff,” Lloyd said. evening was just a little too much for us.
Houston extended its lead to 10 points three times before halftime.
The Wildcats missed seven of their first eight shots and shot in double figures for the first time after Houston scored seven runs in 57 seconds for a 14-4 lead. That quick push included Shead getting a rebound to start a quick break that ended with his pass to Ramon Walker Jr. in the left corner for an open 3 and a driving layup by Edwards after a turnover.
Moore, a transfer graduate, had a career-high 21 points in Houston’s second-round win over Illinois, but his first 3 to make it 5-0 at Houston in the first two minutes was all he would score against the Wildcats. He committed his third personal foul with 9:22 remaining and played just 17 minutes in total.
“The guy who’s been really good to us, Taze Moore, wasn’t a factor. … Tonight, you know, he was in the witness protection program. I couldn’t find him. Nowhere,” he said. said Sampson. “We put it in there, we had to take it out immediately.”
Arizona was within 34-28 at halftime when Koloko made both free throws after a whistle and a replay when 0.6 seconds were reset on the clock. Sampson and the Cougars thought the half was over, and Mathurin thought he was fouled for the rebound on Koloko’s miss when the buzzer sounded, but the referees ruled a foul on the shot from Koloko after watching the replay.
Arizona: The Wildcats needed overtime to beat TCU in the second round, but they got off to a slow start and never recovered in the Sweet 16 game. They shot 33% (18 of 54) and had 14 turnovers than Houston turned into 24 points.
Houston: The Cougars have appeared in six regional finals in the past. They won each time to qualify for the Final Four. … With Arizona down just two runs early in the second half, Edwards hit a 3-run. Terry hit a 3 a few minutes later to put the Wildcats back in a bucket again, but Shead responded with another long range.
Houston and Villanova have not played since the Cougars won 79-49 on November 23, 1991. Both teams have played in the NCAA Tournament twice – Houston won in 1983 and Villanova won the 1981 tournament.
More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25