ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) L.J. Cryer scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half to lift No. 1 Houston to a 67-59 comeback victory over UCF on Wednesday night that clinched at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title in the Cougars' first season in the conference.

Houston, which moved from the American Athletic Conference, has won either a conference tournament or regular-season title in six straight seasons.

“We knew the Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball,” Cougars forward J’Wan Roberts said. “Houston has been a winning program for a long time. It didn’t really matter which conference we ended up going in, once we traveled with our DNA and our toughness, I feel like we can compete with anybody in the nation.”

Houston (27-3, 14-3) led by nine after Cryer's 3-pointer with 2:18 to play. UCF (15-14, 6-11) closed within four with just over a minute left, but Cryer hit another clutch shot to pull away.

The Cougars trailed by as many as seven points and never led in the first half. They did not take their first lead until Jamal Shead drained a 3 to make it 45-42 with about 12 minutes to play.

Houston’s defense stifled UCF throughout the second half, holding the Knights to one field goal over nearly five minutes to take control of the game.

“I feel like there were some turnovers in there for sure,” UCF guard Darius Johnson said. “We were playing on the perimeter and allowing them to be comfortable on D.”

Shead finished with 16 points and eight assists. Roberts had 12 points and seven rebounds. Cryer shot 9 of 17 from the floor, including 5 of 11 on 3-pointers.

“Coach tells me to keep shooting no matter if I am making or missing,” Cryer said. “Once I got going, they did a great job putting the ball in my hands and my teammates did a great job trusting me with the ball. We went out there and did what we did.”

C.J. Walker led UCF with 15 points. Jaylin Sellers added 12.

The Knights shot 45.5% for the game. They held the Cougars to 37.5% shooting and 2 for 11 from 3 in the first half.

Houston forced 18 turnovers and scored 22 points off them.

UCF had just four points off 10 forced turnovers.


Houston: The Cougars can clinch an outright conference title with a win in their last game of the regular season against No. 14 Kansas on Saturday or a loss by sixth-ranked Iowa State at Kansas State.

UCF: The Knights need one more win to guarantee they will finish above .500 and get in position to receive one of the Big 12's automatic bids to the NIT.


Houston: At home against Kansas on Saturday.

UCF: Closes its regular season Saturday on the road against TCU.


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