No. 5 Houston cruises past No. 4 Illinois to make 3rd straight Sweet 16

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Taze Moore scored 21 points, Jamal Shead added 18 and Houston, a Last Four workforce very last time, innovative to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with a 68-53 get Sunday around Illinois, ousted in the opening weekend for the next straight 12 months.

The fifth-seeded Cougars (31-5), who misplaced their two very best gamers to period-ending injuries, are headed house to Texas for the following spherical, which will be in San Antonio, about a three-hour generate from Houston.

Kyler Edwards additional 15 points for Houston, a crew usually disregarded but building significant noise once more this March.

With Houston’s supporters chanting “Sweet 16, Sweet 16” in the ultimate seconds, Edwards dropped just one past 3-pointer and seconds later on lifted Moore, a further of Houston’s transfers, off the floor.

For Illinois, it truly is another yr of deep disappointment. The fourth-seeded Combating Illini (23-10) were being identified to go farther just after being bumped by Loyola Chicago past 12 months, but couldn’t get past the 2nd spherical yet again.

All-American middle Kofi Cockburn did his section, scoring 19 in 38 minutes to lead Illinois. The huge gentleman spurned the NBA past yr for a shot at some tournament redemption, only to arrive up brief in what was likely his final college sport.

Down by 12 in the very first 50 percent, Illinois battled back again and was in just 56-49 soon after Alfonso Plummer’s 4-level engage in.

But right after Shead hit a floater, Houston’s Fabian White Jr. created the play of the match by racing into the backcourt and swatting the ball just before it went out of bounds with his remaining hand to Moore for a layup.

It can be been that sort of time for the Cougars, who shed Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark — two mainstays from final year’s semifinal staff — but are one particular of 16 groups nevertheless alive for a countrywide title,

Both equally teams were restricted in the early heading, and the intense pressure appeared to squeeze the rims a minimal tighter, also.

Not like Friday’s video game, when Houston started out six of seven on 3-pointers to startle UAB, the Cougars had been off the mark — in some scenarios, way off. Illinois was even even worse, commencing 1 of 9 on 3s.

The bigger concern, however, was the Illini could not determine out how to get the ball inside to Cockburn, who experienced two and three Houston gamers swarming on him each time he obtained a touch. On one particular of the scarce events the 7-footer got it cleanly, Josh Carlton grabbed his arms and was known as for a Flagrant 1 foul.

Houston opened a 12-level direct, and Illinois was reeling.

Which is when mentor Brad Underwood turned to freshman reserve Luke Goode, who arrived off the bench and manufactured a pair of 3-tips.

Trent Frazier’s nailed a 3 at the horn to pull the Illini in 30-26 at fifty percent.