65
TF 10
FINAL
End
2nd
TBS
Thu Mar. 15
7:40pm
BONUS
67
TF 14
ML: +170
HOU -4.5, O/U 140.0
ML: -200
SDGST
HOU

No Text

Houston holds off San Diego State 67-65 in West Region

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) So many thoughts were running through Rob Gray's head as he dribbled near midcourt, time winding down in a tied NCAA Tournament game, that Houston's star guard nearly ran out of time.

''I was thinking to myself, I'm a senior, I've never been in March Madness. This is what I live for,'' Gray said later. ''A small thought ran through my head: I thought about Cincinnati, how I had a chance to win that game for us and I didn't, and I just wanted to come through for us.''

Finally deciding it was time to go, Gray drove for a wind-milling layup that trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left. And when San Diego State's Trey Kell missed a tough 3-pointer at the buzzer, the No. 6 seed Cougars had a heart-stopping 67-65 first-round win Thursday night.

Gray had come through where he failed in the American Athletic Conference title game.

''There's a lot of ways you have to win games, a lot of times you just have to do it from the seat of your pants,'' said Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson, in the tournament with his fourth different team. ''The difference in the game tonight is that we had Rob Gray and they didn't.''

Devin Watson had just tied the game for the Aztecs with a turnaround 3-pointer, his second in a matter of seconds, when Gray dribbled up floor with 29 ticks left. He allowed the clock to melt down to six seconds before crossing over, scooting beneath two defenders and scooping up his shot.

The layup gave him 39 points and the Cougars (27-7) their first NCAA Tournament win since 1984, when coach Guy Lewis took Hakeem Olajuwon and several members of Phi Slamma Jamma to their third consecutive Final Four.

''It means a lot to our program, especially sitting next to Coach Sampson. He's a big part of why I'm here. Rob's a big part, too,'' the Cougars' Devin Davis said. ''We survived to play another day.''

Jalen McDaniels had 18 points to lead No. 11 seed San Diego State (22-11). Kell finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, though it's the three points he missed at the end that will stand out.

Houston will play third-seeded Michigan in the West Region on Saturday.

''It's always bitterly disappointing when the season ends, especially when you feel like you have good basketball left,'' Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. ''It's March. We had a March-type shot to win the game and it didn't go home. We're disappointed over that.''

The Cougars struggled much of the first half to deal with the Aztecs' length, especially McDaniels and Malik Pope, the 6-foot-11 forwards who effectively clogged up the paint.

Houston finally started to open things up when it began drawing fouls late in the half.

Gray did most of the damage, hitting an array of floaters and lay-ins before a 3 from about 30 feet gave the Cougars a 39-29 halftime lead. Gray finished the half with 16 points, even though he went to the bench for a short stretch with two fouls.

For long periods in the second half, the best offense for either team came at the foul line.

McDaniels went to the stripe four times in five trips for San Diego State, and Gray answered with three straight trips for Houston. That was part of a stretch in which the Cougars mustered a single field goal over more than 10 minutes, allowing the Aztecs to slowly whittle away at their deficit.

Watson finally tied the game with a deep 3-pointer with just over a minute left, only to watch Gray answer with a 3 of his own to give Houston a 65-62 lead with 39.4 seconds remaining.

Watson got the ball in his hands again, this time spinning around on the wing for a can-you-top-this 3-pointer that electrified a vocal section of fans opposite the San Diego State bench.

Turned out that Gray would top it one more time.

''Two really good teams. Neither wanted to lose,'' Sampson said. ''Rob had it going. He had it going. So we were going to ride that horse until they stopped it.''

BIG PICTURE

San Diego State had won nine straight games, including its run to the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship, before running into the Cougars. The nail-biting loss dropped the Aztecs to 1-5 in games decided by four points or fewer this season.

Houston made the most of its first NCAA Tournament trip since 2010, becoming the sixth team in school history to reach 27 wins. Now, the Cougars can aim for their 28th.

UP NEXT

San Diego State heads home while Houston turns its attention to Michigan in the second round.

---

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Key Players
D. Watson
0 G
R. Gray
32 G
31.5 Min. Per Game 31.5
18.5 Pts. Per Game 18.5
4.5 Ast. Per Game 4.5
3.3 Reb. Per Game 3.3
40.8 Field Goal % 45.1
38.9 Three Point % 35.2
75.4 Free Throw % 80.3
  Offensive rebound by San Diego State 0.0
  Trey Kell missed 3-pt. jump shot 1.0
+ 2 Rob Gray made driving layup 2.0
+ 3 Devin Watson made 3-pt. jump shot 28.0
+ 3 Rob Gray made 3-pt. jump shot 41.0
+ 3 Devin Watson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Malik Pope 1:05
  Defensive rebound by Jalen McDaniels 1:14
  Rob Gray missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:16
  Defensive rebound by Corey Davis Jr. 1:35
  Matt Mitchell missed 2nd of 2 free throws 1:35
+ 1 Matt Mitchell made 1st of 2 free throws 1:35
Team Stats
Points 65 67
Field Goals 20-54 (37.0%) 22-59 (37.3%)
3-Pointers 4-16 (25.0%) 5-13 (38.5%)
Free Throws 21-35 (60.0%) 18-24 (75.0%)
Total Rebounds 45 39
Offensive 9 5
Defensive 30 31
Team 6 3
Assists 11 5
Steals 4 3
Blocks 5 1
Turnovers 12 7
Fouls 19 25
Technicals 0 0
18 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST
39 PTS, 8 REB
12T
away team logo 11 San Diego State 22-11 293665
home team logo 6 Houston 27-7 392867
Team Stats
away team logo 11 San Diego State 22-11 71.7 PPG 39.1 RPG 14.3 APG
home team logo 6 Houston 27-7 75.3 PPG 44.4 RPG 14.8 APG
Key Players
5
J. McDaniels F 15.9 PPG 8.3 RPG 2.1 APG 46.6 FG%
00
R. Gray G PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
J. McDaniels F 18 PTS 9 REB 1 AST
R. Gray G 39 PTS 8 REB 0 AST
37.0 FG% 37.3
25.0 3PT FG% 38.5
60.0 FT% 75.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. McDaniels 18 9 1 4/11 1/2 9/12 4 28 0 1 2 2 7
T. Kell 12 8 4 4/14 0/3 4/5 2 38 0 0 2 0 8
M. Pope 11 11 2 4/8 0/1 3/8 4 34 0 3 4 3 8
D. Watson 9 3 2 3/10 2/4 1/4 1 30 1 0 1 1 2
M. Mitchell 3 2 1 1/2 0/1 1/2 3 19 0 0 0 1 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. McDaniels 18 9 1 4/11 1/2 9/12 4 28 0 1 2 2 7
T. Kell 12 8 4 4/14 0/3 4/5 2 38 0 0 2 0 8
M. Pope 11 11 2 4/8 0/1 3/8 4 34 0 3 4 3 8
D. Watson 9 3 2 3/10 2/4 1/4 1 30 1 0 1 1 2
M. Mitchell 3 2 1 1/2 0/1 1/2 3 19 0 0 0 1 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
M. Montana 5 2 0 2/4 1/3 0/0 1 14 1 0 2 0 2
J. Hemsley 4 2 0 2/5 0/2 0/0 3 19 2 1 1 0 2
J. Schakel 2 1 1 0/0 0/0 2/2 1 9 0 0 0 1 0
K. Rooks 1 1 0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0 9 0 0 0 1 0
N. Narain - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Seiko - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Sohikish - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 65 39 11 20/54 4/16 21/35 19 200 4 5 12 9 30
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Gray 39 8 0 12/25 4/6 11/15 2 36 1 0 4 1 7
D. Davis 9 9 0 4/14 0/0 1/2 5 27 0 0 0 1 8
C. Davis Jr. 9 4 2 2/10 0/5 5/5 2 38 1 0 1 0 4
G. Robinson Jr. 5 2 2 2/3 1/1 0/0 4 24 0 0 1 0 2
B. Brady 0 2 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 11 0 0 0 1 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Gray 39 8 0 12/25 4/6 11/15 2 36 1 0 4 1 7
D. Davis 9 9 0 4/14 0/0 1/2 5 27 0 0 0 1 8
C. Davis Jr. 9 4 2 2/10 0/5 5/5 2 38 1 0 1 0 4
G. Robinson Jr. 5 2 2 2/3 1/1 0/0 4 24 0 0 1 0 2
B. Brady 0 2 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 11 0 0 0 1 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
C. Harris Jr. 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 1 3 0 0 0 1 0
F. White Jr. 2 2 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 5 11 0 0 1 0 2
N. Zanna 1 1 1 0/1 0/0 1/2 3 27 1 0 0 0 1
A. Brooks 0 7 0 0/4 0/1 0/0 2 22 0 1 0 1 6
G. Grant 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
W. VanBeck - - - - - - - - - - - - -
V. Sangoyomi - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Adewunmi - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Alley Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Broodo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 67 36 5 22/59 5/13 18/24 25 200 3 1 7 5 31