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No. 2 Houston starts fast, overwhelms SMU

Jan 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs guard Jefferson Koulibaly (0) and Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser (0) battle for the ball during the first half at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman Jarace Walker scored a season-high 23 points to lead five Houston players in double figures as the No. 2 Cougars cruised to an 87-53 victory over visiting SMU in American Athletic Conference play on Thursday.

Walker shot 10 of 16 from the field, including 3 of 6 from distance, to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds and three assists, while Marcus Sasser added 14 points and a game-high seven assists.

Houston’s J’Wan Roberts scored 11 points, all in the first half, and grabbed eight rebounds, with Tramon Mark finishing with 10 points and three rebounds. Terrance Arceneaux chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

The Cougars (15-1, 3-0), who led by as many as 39 points in the second half, shot 31 of 68 (45.6 percent) from the field, including 10 of 30 (33.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Houston, which has won six straight, outrebounded the Mustangs 54-26, including 33-19 on the offensive end that led to 35 second-chance points for the Cougars.

SMU (6-9, 1-1), which has dropped two of its past three games, was led by Efe Odigie, who had 14 points and five rebounds, while Zach Nuttall added 12 points.

The Mustangs shot 15 of 49 (30.6 percent) from the field, including 3 of 20 (15 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Cougars opened the game on a 24-2 run in which Walker scored Houston’s first eight points and 16 of its first 29 to stake Houston to a 23-point lead with 11:27 left in the first half.

Houston led by as many as 28 points in the first half before taking a 49-23 advantage at halftime.

Walker scored 18 points in just 13 minutes of playing time in the first half, while Roberts added 11 points in his 13 minutes on the court in the opening half for Houston.

The Cougars shot 19 of 36 (52.8 percent) from the field, including a dreadful 3 of 15 (20 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half.

SMU was led by Odigie’s six points, with no other Mustang scoring more than four.

The Mustangs shot 7 of 25 (28 percent) from the field in the first half, including missing all eight of their 3-point attempts.

–Field Level Media