(SportsRadio 610) - It’s becoming clear who the No. 3 Houston Cougars rely upon when things get tough down the stretch.
For the second straight game, Cougars freshman Jarace Walker came up clutch, helping the Cougars (21-2, 9-1 AAC) to an 70-61 road victory against the Wichita State Shockers (11-11, 4-6 AAC).
“When it came winning time, I think our DNA kicked in,” Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We know how to win and there is a lot to be said about that.”
Walker led the Cougars with 15 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 4:27 remaining as the Cougars overcame another second half deficit.
Marcus Sasser contributed 15 points and the Cougars put all five starters in double-figures.
Coming off a career high 25 points in a dramatic victory over the University of Central Florida last weekend, in which the Cougars overcame an 11-point second half deficit, Walker and the Cougars again found themselves playing from behind Thursday night.
“Jarace had that little stretch there where he shot a fall away jumper from about 18-feet,” Sampson said. “I didn’t know whether to vomit or go blind when he shot that one.”
Walker put it together when it mattered most, keeping Sampson’s stomach calm and eye-balls intact.
Trailing 47-40 inside the 15-minute mark, the Cougars began to chip away after a poor shooting first half. Walkers three-pointer cut the Cougar deficit to 50-47 with 10:17 left in the game.
Moments later, after Marcus Sasser had kept the Cougars clawing after a lay up and a couple of free throws, Walker drained his second long range bucket of the night to tie the game at 54 with 6:15 remaining.
The Cougars scored 15 second chance points Thursday night, none were bigger than the three-points they got off a missed Sasser three-point attempt which led to Walker draining his third three-pointer of the half to give Houston a 57-54 advantage.
The Cougars wouldn’t look back, as Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark hit key free throws down the stretch while J’Wan Roberts continued to be a force in the paint.
The Cougars will travel to Philadelphia this weekend for a rematch with the Temple Owls, who upset Houston 56-55 on January 22 at the Fertitta Center. Tip off Sunday is scheduled for 5pm CT and will be broadcast on ESPN 2.