Walker, No. 3 Houston rally for a 75-69 win over Cincinnati


(SportsRadio 610) - Standout Houston freshman Jarace Walker tallied a career high 25 points, helping the third-ranked Cougars rally from a 13-point deficit in the second half to beat Cincinnati 75-69 Saturday at the Fertitta Center.

Walker was the Cougars most consistent and reliable scorer Saturday, scoring 13 points in the first half, but none were bigger than the 12 he added in the second half.

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The American Athletic Conferences top freshman, Walker, hit a jumper with 3:51 remaining in the game to give the Cougars a 66-64 lead, their first since the 17:36 mark of the first half when they led 6-3.

Jamal Shead came up clutch as well down the stretch. Following a Bearcats three-pointer that tied the game at 69 apiece with 1:19 left in the game, Shead knocked down a step back jumper with :47 seconds remaining.

After the Cougars clamped down defensively on the insuring possession, forcing a shot-clock violation, Shead was fouled and made both free throws to give his team a four-point lead at 73-69 with just :14 seconds left in the game.

Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the game that both Shead and Walker took their game to another level Saturday.

“Jamal’s will to win, equals his refusal to lose,” Sampson said. “Jarice is just getting more comfortable and more confident and you can see it.”

Bearcats senior guard, Landers Nolley II had 24 points, including 6 three-pointers, but the Cougars held him to just two-points down the stretch.

Houston our scores Cincinnati 26-9 in the games final 11:28. Sampson said the adjustments they made at the break paid off.

“We scored thirty-six points the first half, it’s not like we scored fifty the second half, we scored thirty-nine,” Sampson said. “The difference was we held them to thirty. We weren’t committing as hard to the roller and our activity at the point of attack was better.”

Since dropping their second game of the season in a 56-55 loss to Temple last weekend, the Cougars have won two straight and have improved their field goal shooting in the process.

“There’s a lot of value we can gain from this game,” Sampson said.

While it’s hard for any team to bring their ‘A’ game every night, the Cougars played really well in the face of adversity, taking the Bearcats best shot and fighting back.

“We executed at a really, really high level tonight,” Sampson said. “Whatever was called, we executed. We were missing some clean looks and they were making some hard shots. You know, much props to Cincinnati tonight, the hardest thing to do is beat a team twice.”

Not only have the Cougars beat the Bearcats twice this season already, but they’ve won the past eight consecutive meetings between the two programs.

The Cougars will visit Wichita on Thursday night. That game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN 2 and will tip at 8 p.m. CT.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports