HOUSTON (AP) — Tramon Mark scored a career-high 23 points, Marcus Sasser added 19 points and a career-best seven rebounds, and No. 3 Houston defeated Oral Roberts 83-45 on Monday night.
Mark had 19 points and Sasser scored 15 in the first half as Houston (3-0) built a 51-24 lead at halftime.
“Tramon has always had a fantastic attitude,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “He’s very coachable. When Tramon got here, if I had told him to run through a brick wall, he’d want to negotiate. … Now, he’d say, ‘Can I get a running start?’ But that means he’s bought into our culture.”
The duo combined to shoot 15 of 28 for the game. Mark and Sasser both missed most of last season due to injuries.
“I’m just happy to be back on the court playing with my teammates, grinding it out every minute that I’m out there,” Mark said.
Terrence Arceneaux had 14 points and five rebounds, and Ja’Vier Francis added 11 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Houston shot 52% and outrebounded the Golden Eagles 52-30. The Cougars held a 42-8 advantage in points in the paint.
“Last year I always felt like I was coaching with one arm tied behind my back a little bit because I lived in constant fear of foul trouble and fatigue because we had no depth, and that was an issue,” Sampson said. “It affected the way I coached and the way I had to manage the game. This year if you are not doing what I ask you to do, sit down. I’m not going to ask twice.”
DeShang Weaver scored 12 points, and Connor Vanover had 11 points and five rebounds for the Eagles (1-2). Preseason Summit League player of the year Max Abmas was held to three points on 1-of-13 shooting, including 1 for 9 on 3-pointers.
“There’s going to be nights like this,” Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills said. “Every good player is going to struggle, going 2 for 23 between our two all-conference guards between Max and (Isaac McBride).
“You do have to be able to move on to it, but we can’t hang our hats on poor shooting nights as much as there’s things we can control. … The areas we can control, we need to do better. Those guys will be fine, they’ll be able to make shots, but the areas where we can be able to control, we need to.”
Oral Roberts shot 23% and finished 8 of 38 on 3s.
Houston used a 21-2 run over 6 1/2 minutes of the first half to open a 29-8 lead on a layup by Mark. Sasser and Mark combined to score 19 points during the spurt.
Oral Roberts: The Eagles struggled early and could not recover. Oral Roberts was 1 for 15 from the field to start the game and missed 12 straight shots during that stretch. The team used three of its four timeouts in the first 11 minutes.
“It was that 16-minute mark to that 10-minute mark,” Mills said. “We knew how physical they were; they were able to get offensive rebounds, they were able to get putbacks. We let it snowball, and us not being able to make shots — we’ve been pretty good at making shots. We’ve been No. 1 in the country the last two years, but tonight it didn’t happen.”
Houston: The Cougars were more physical and outhustled Oral Roberts throughout, leading to their edge in the paint and on the boards. Houston shot 56% in the first half. The Cougars have scored at least 81 points in each of their first three games.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
Houston observed a moment of silence before the game for victims of the University of Virginia shooting. The school put the numbers 1, 15 and 41 on the scoreboards to remember Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
Oral Roberts: Plays at Texas Southern on Tuesday.
Houston: Will host Texas Southern on Wednesday.