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RECAP: No. 2 seed Houston needs furious rally to survive Rutgers

Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Cougars forward Justin Gorham (4) fouls Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Montez Mathis (10) on a shot attempt during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Cougars forward Justin Gorham (4) fouls Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Montez Mathis (10) on a shot attempt during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tramon Mark converted a three-point play with 24.1 seconds left as the second-seeded Houston Cougars rallied for a 63-60 win over 10th-seeded Rutgers in second-round action of the Midwest Regional in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Mark turned an offensive rebound into a 61-60 lead when he snagged a miss by DeJon Jarreau, scored through a foul on Scarlet Knights guard Geo Baker and sank the subsequent free throw.

Marcus Sasser followed with a steal and two additional free throws with nine seconds remaining before the Cougars (26-3) survived a last-ditch 3-point attempt from Rutgers’ Ron Harper Jr.

Houston will face 11th-seeded Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Houston rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit by closing the game on a 14-2 run, limiting Rutgers to just one field goal after Myles Johnson gave the Scarlet Knights a 58-49 lead with 4:55 to play. The Cougars overcame 1-for-9 shooting from Sasser and took inspiration from Jarreau, who posted 17 points and five rebounds playing through a painful right hip pointer.

Quentin Grimes led Houston with 22 points and nine rebounds. The Cougars outrebounded Rutgers 22-11 in the second half, with their 16th offensive rebound of the game proving significant.

Baker led Rutgers with 14 points and four assists while Harper and Jacob Young, the Scarlet Knights’ leading scorers, combined for just 15 points on 6 of 20 shooting with no free throws.

While it took more than four minutes for the Scarlet Knights to record their first field goal on a Harper 3 at the 15:36 mark of the first half, the Cougars built a 14-7 lead on a Grimes steal and assist on a Justin Gorham dunk.

But after starting 7 of 12 from the floor, the Cougars cooled.

Houston missed 9 of 10 field goals while Rutgers (16-12) clawed back, and the Scarlet Knights pushed ahead 20-18 on a Caleb McConnell steal and layup. The Cougars ended their drought with a Mark reverse layup but trailed 30-27 at the break after shooting 4 of 18 down the stretch.

Rutgers surprisingly fashioned an 18-17 advantage on the boards in the first half while limiting the Cougars to 11 of 30 shooting and just two free throw attempts, of which the Cougars converted one.

–Field Level Media