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Jarace Walker shines as No. 5 Houston hands first loss to No. 2 Virginia

Dec 17, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Houston Cougars forward J'Wan Roberts (13) attempts to shoot the ball as Virginia Cavaliers forward Kadin Shedrick (21) defends during the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Jarace Walker tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists as No. 5 Houston handed No. 2 Virginia its first loss, 69-61, Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark added 13 points each, while Jamal Shead had 11 points and four assists.

The Cougars (11-1) used their signature defense to limit the Cavaliers to 41.7 percent shooting from the floor and 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) accuracy from 3-point range. Houston shot 49 percent from the floor and made 8 of 21 shots (38.1 percent) from beyond the arc.

In its first ever nonconference game at home against a top-5 team, Virginia (8-1) was led by Kadin Shedrick who scored 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting. Jayden Gardner added 13 points and six rebounds.

Playing on a sore hamstring, one of the Cavaliers’ top threats Reece Beekman scored just four points in 34 minutes.

Virginia pulled to within six on two occasions in the final five minutes. But Houston had immediate answers as Shead drove inside for a layup and Mark drilled a 3-pointer.

Walker also was clutch down the stretch as he scored seven points in the final five minutes. His 3-pointer with 4:38 to go gave the Cougars a 54-44 lead.

Kihei Clark (nine points, eight assists) got Virginia off to a quick start, hitting a 3-pointer, making two free throws and dishing to Shedrick for a slam dunk. It was part of a 9-0 run as Houston missed its first six shots.

But the Cougars quickly found the range, making 13 of their next 20 shots. Midway through the half, Houston matched Virginia’s nine-point spree with one of their own.

J’Wan Roberts (10 points, six rebounds) scrapped inside for three buckets to fuel the flurry and Sasser drained a 3-pointer as the Cougars grabbed their first lead, 16-15.

Sasser added two more 3-pointers in the final seven minutes of the half to help Houston to a 30-26 lead at the break.

Early in the second half, Walker made a 3-pointer to highlight a seven-point run which pushed the Cougars’ lead to double digits at 40-30.

–Field Level Media