HOUSTON (AP) — Emanuel Sharp scored a career-high 20 points, Damian Dunn added 18 and No. 7 Houston beat Louisiana-Monroe 84-31 Monday night in the season-opener for both teams.
Sharp was 5 for 9 from the field and hit four 3-pointers, while Dunn, a transfer from Temple, finished 5 for 8 from the field, including 3 for 5 on 3s. Dunn scored 14 straight points during one stretch as the Cougars built a 23-7 lead with 8:45 left in the first half en route to a 38-14 halftime lead.
Houston shot 43% and was 11 for 35 on 3-pointers.
“This game is not about any one player,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I don’t think anybody really stood out tonight. That’s kind of the strength of this team — we don’t depend on one guy.”
The 31 points allowed was tied for the third-fewest Houston has allowed in program history and the fewest Houston has given up in more than 70 years. The Cougars beat Abilene Christian 54-31 on Dec. 2, 1947, and it was the fewest allowed since beating Texas A&M 38-29 on Dec. 8, 1951.
“You know how hard it is to hold a team to 31 points?” Sampson said. “That’s the story. That’s it. That’s hard to do.”
The Cougars dominated Louisiana-Monroe in just about every stat, including outrebounding the Warhawks 46-30 and forced 25 turnovers, which Houston turned into 30 points.
“Our defense is our star,” Sampson said. “How we rebounded, how we defend. We’ve been doing this a long, long time. Before any of these guys were on this team. … It’s our system. Everybody has a system; everybody has a way they want to win games, but I’m not going to get carried away with how kids play in November.”
Savion Gallion scored eight points, and Tyreke Locure had seven for the Warhawks, who shot 28%.
ULM coach Keith Richard was impressed with Houston’s defense.
“I thought before the game coming in Houston was elite defensively,” he said. “Now, I think Houston is double elite defensively and probably, got to be the best defensive team in the country.”
ULM: The Warhawks had issues competing with Houston’s size and athleticism. … ULM’s 14 first half points surpassed their lowest point total in a half last season, which was 17.
Houston: The Cougars, picked to finish second in their first year in the Big 12, used their swarming defense to give ULM issues throughout the night. … L.J. Cryer, a transfer from Baylor, struggled on 3-for-13 shooting, including 1 for 9 on 3s, to finish with nine points.
PAYING TRIBUTE TO CHANEY
Houston will pay tribute to former forward Reggie Chaney by wearing #32 patches this season in his memory. Chaney, who was 23 when he died in August, was a three-year letterman at Houston and graduated in May. The Cougars played a video package and held a moment of silence in his honor during halftime.
ULM: Travels to Central Michigan Saturday.
Houston: Hosts Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Saturday.