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RECAP: Houston Cougars dispatch Syracuse to reach Elite Eight

Mar 27, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Cougars forward Fabian White Jr. (35) dunks during the second half against the Syracuse Orange in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Cougars forward Fabian White Jr. (35) dunks during the second half against the Syracuse Orange in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports

Quentin Grimes scored a game-high 14 points, Justin Gorham added 13 points and 10 rebounds second-seeded Houston defeated Syracuse 62-46 on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in a Midwest Region semifinal of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars (27-3) will face 12th-seeded Oregon State (20-12) at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday for a berth in the Final Four. Houston last reached the Elite Eight in 1984 when it eventually lost to Georgetown in the national title game.

Houston excelled defensively against the Orange (18-10), limiting Syracuse to its lowest point total in NCAA Tournament history. The Orange shot just 28 percent overall and missed 18 of 23 3-pointers, with leading scorer Buddy Boeheim finishing with 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Syracuse hit 3 of 5 3-pointers to open the second half, cutting a 30-20 halftime deficit to four points. But the Cougars turned up the pressure and held the Orange without a field goal for nearly eight minutes while slowly pulling away.

Gorham delivered the knockout blow with another three-point play, this one coming with 3:49 left before DeJon Jarreau added a steal and breakaway dunk that pushed the Cougars to a 58-43 lead.

Jarreau produced nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists with just one turnover while Marcus Sasser chipped in 12 points and four steals for the Cougars, who totaled eight steals.

Joseph Girard III joined Boeheim in double figures with 12 points for the Orange.

The Cougars took their largest lead of the first half at 17-5 on a Fabian White Jr. jumper at the 10:33 mark, but Syracuse countered with center Jesse Edwards in the middle of its zone and momentum swung almost immediately, with Edwards’ length siphoning the Cougars’ offense.

Syracuse followed with a 15-3 run and pulled even at 20 on three Boeheim free throws. The Orange made headway defensively, forcing three consecutive turnovers during one stretch while holding the Cougars scoreless for nearly six minutes. But the offense wasn’t clicking, even during the extended run, with Syracuse making more free throws (seven) than field goals (four).

Houston reclaimed control with a 10-0 spurt to close the half, a run that featured a Grimes 3-pointer, Gorham three-point play and a Sasser steal and layup. The Orange closed the first half 1 for 10 on 3-pointers. The Cougars, meanwhile, recorded 10 assists on 12 field goals.

–Field Level Media