HOUSTON (AP) — Marcus Sasser scored 20 points and Jarace Walker added 19 to help No. 3 Houston rout Texas Southern 83-48 on Wednesday night.
Sasser, who scored 15 points in the first half, has scored at least 19 points in three of the first four games this season. Walker shot 9 of 11 from the field.
“Where Jarace is now compared to where he is going to be a month from now, two months from now, I think he’s going to continue to blossom,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “When I say this I mean it, Jarace has no ego. He doesn’t. His ego is winning. Same with Marcus.”
J’Wan Roberts had 10 points for Houston, which shot 52%. The Cougars (4-0) forced 18 turnovers, which they converted into 21 points. Houston also held a 50-24 advantage in points in the paint and dished out 19 assists on 31 made field goals.
“Your team is never as good as you think it is,” Sampson said. “It’s never as bad as you think it is. Are we a great team? Absolutely not. We’re not. I know what a great team looks like. I’ve had some. This one’s not there yet. Maybe it will be. Who knows? I don’t know. But, they’re certainly not now. … We’ve got a lot question marks that will get answered as we go into December and January.”
Zytarious Morlte scored 15 points, and Davon Barnes and P.J. Henry each added nine points for Texas Southern (1-4). The Tigers shot 37%.
“I thought Zy has been really good each game for us,” Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones said. “I thought he really played big tonight. … I know what a great defensive team and how tough (the Cougars) are.
“For Zy to come into this type of environment against a team of this magnitude – possibly, the No. 1 team in the country – to be able to come in and make the plays he did against such a great defensive team, gives us reason to be excited.”
Houston outscored Texas Southern 23-6 over an eight-minute span of the first half to open up a 31-15 lead on a 3-pointer by Walker with five minutes left in the half. Walker had 11 points in the run.
Texas Southern: The Tigers played their third game in four days after defeating Arizona State in overtime on Sunday and losing to Oral Roberts Tuesday night. Texas Southern got 26 points from its bench.
“I told them before the game ‘You’ll be challenged tonight and your response is going to have a big reflection on you because the tape will tell the truth’,” Jones said. “I thought a lot of our guys responded again to the physicality, the toughness of this basketball team, and I think it’s an opportunity to have a great learning tape from this.”
Houston: The Cougars continue to lean on their defense to get everything started. Houston has held all four of its opponents under 37% shooting. The first half has been where Houston has taken control of the games, holding each of their four opponents so far to under 31% shooting in the half and 26 or less points.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS
The win gave Houston coach Kelvin Sampson his 703rd career win and gave him sole possession of 32nd on the NCAA winningest coaches list. Sampson broke a tie with Larry Hunter.
Despite being a couple blocks away from each other, Wednesday marked just the eighth meeting between the two schools, with Houston owning a 6-2 edge.
Texas Southern: Travels to Auburn on Friday.
Houston: Travels to Oregon on Sunday.