No. 1 Houston makes quick work of 16th-seeded Longwood

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 04:55 AM

Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

MEMPHIS -- It didn't take long for top-seeded Houston to announce its presence with authority Friday night.

Once it did, the Cougars were well on their way to an 86-46 blowout of 16th-seeded Longwood in a first-round South Region game of the NCAA Tournament.

"The most important thing for us after the Big 12 Tournament was getting rest," said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. "And we got to practice. You have slippage when you go game-game-game. Getting to practice was great. ... We just needed to tighten some things up. It felt great to go back and work on our fundamentals, get back to the basics of being a good defensive team."

The result sets up a rematch Sunday in the second round against ninth-seeded Texas A&M, which beat Nebraska 98-83 earlier Friday. Houston held off the Aggies 70-66 on Dec. 16 at the Toyota Center.

Making their second NCAA Tournament appearance as a Division I program, the Lancers (21-14) had the neutral crowd on their side at FedEx Forum after Emanuel Richards converted a jumper to trim Longwood's deficit to 14-9.

But the Cougars (31-4) answered immediately, beginning with a 3-pointer from Jamal Shead. That started a 29-7 run to close the half and essentially seal the victory. L.J. Cryer scored 13 points in the first half for Houston, and Shead added nine points and five assists.

Longwood, which won the Big South Conference tournament as a No. 5 seed after going 6-10 in conference play, experienced difficulties getting into an offense, much less getting off shots. The Lancers took just 19 shots in the first half and coughed up 14 turnovers.

"It wasn't the Lancers' night but credit to Houston," said Longwood coach Griff Aldrich. "They just make it so hard on every play. They are so consistent. We haven't seen all year what we saw tonight."

The Cougars scored more points off turnovers in the half (17) than Longwood scored overall. And they outscored the Lancers 20-0 in the paint.

"We just started playing defense instead of worrying about our offense and getting shots," said Cryer. "We locked down and forced turnovers, and that led to easier buckets."

Cryer finished with 17 points, going 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, and Damian Dunn added 17 points off the bench. Shead finished with 11 points and nine assists, the latter equaling Longwood's team total. Emanuel Sharp contributed 13 points, all in the second half.

Houston shot 58.5 percent from the floor and led by as many as 42 points in the second half.

Johnathan Massie scored 10 points off the bench to pace Longwood.

--Bucky Dent, Field Level Media