Cryer scores 23 points in No. 6 Houston's tight victory over Xavier
CINCINNATI (AP) — L.J. Cryer scored 23 points and Jamal Shead had 13 to help No. 6 Houston hold off Xavier 66-60 on Friday night.
Houston improved to 8-0 for the second straight season and fifth time in school history.
Quincy Olivari led the Xavier (4-4) with 17 points. Desmond Claude added 14 in the first meeting between the schools. The Musketeers were missing one of their best perimeter shooters, with Trey Green out with an illness.
Houston won its first seven games by an average of 26.8 points. But the Cougars were challenged in their first true road game against a Big East Conference opponent.
The Cougars started fast with Cryer connecting on his first three 3-point attempts for a 12-2 lead. Houston's defense was stifling early, forcing the Musketeers into seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Olivari hit three 3-pointers in the first half and the Musketeers rallied back from an early 12-point deficit.
Houston led 36-31 at halftime, with 22 of the points coming off 11 Musketeers turnovers.
The Cougars went on a 10-0 run early in the second half to build a 13-point lead.
But again the Musketeers fought back.
The Cougars went more than six minutes without scoring and the Musketeers took advantage with a 10-0 run.
With Houston leading by nine, Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson was whistled for a technical for his reaction to a foul call.
Claude hit two free throws, and Gytis Nemeiksa's jumper cut it to 46-41.
Two free throws by Claude put the Musketeers ahead 52-51 with 6:47 left.
There were 50 fouls called and the teams combined for 55 free throws. Houston's Claude and Joseph Tugler fouled out, and five players finished with four fouls.
Houston: Cryer, who transferred from Baylor in April, has made an immediate impact for the Cougars, averaging a team-leading 17 points.
Xavier: The Musketeers have 10 newcomers, including six freshmen and four transfers. With a lot of new faces and inexperience, inconsistency has plagued them.
Houston: Hosts Rice on Wednesday night.
Xavier: Hosts Delaware on Tuesday night.
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