HOUSTON (AP) Kyler Edwards had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and No. 10 Houston capitalized on a big first half Saturday night to defeat East Carolina 79-36.
Edwards scored 17 points in the first half as the Cougars (17-2, 6-0 Americans) built a 44-14 halftime lead. Edwards, who finished with six 3-pointers, has scored at least 23 points and made at least six 3-pointers in each of the last three games.
“We are a ball movement team; We’re not a ball-dominant team,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. “Often the ball finds him and that is a credit to his teammates. I don’t think we did any plays for Kyler tonight. The ball just found him.”
Josh Carlton added 14 points and nine rebounds for Houston, who extended their winning streak to nine games and won their 36th straight home game. The Cougars are 6-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1983-84 season.
The Cougars, shooting 48%, passed East Carolina (11-7, 2-4) 49-33 and had a 19-5 advantage in second chance points. Since the defeat of top scorer Marcus Sasser at the end of December, Houston is 6-0.
“Playing hard on defense, rebounding, 50-50 balls, that’s the foundation,” Sampson said. “We try to use the strengths of our boys. We’re trying to play to our strengths, but I thought tonight it was probably the best thing this team has played defensively (since they lost Sasser) in the first and second halves.”
Tristen Newton finished with 14 points and six rebounds for the Pirates.
“It was Houston’s absolute dominance from start to finish,” said East Carolina coach Joe Dooley. “They controlled every aspect of the game. We didn’t respond which was very disappointing and I thought they absolutely dominated every component of the game.”
East Carolina set school records for fewest field goals at eight and lowest field goal percentage at 16%. The previous low for fewest field goals was 11 against the College of Charleston on December 15, 2016 and the previous record for lowest field goal percentage was 21.1% against Clemson on December 29, 2004.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never seen shooting stats like this from us,” Dooley said. “We shot 16% and 5% (1-19 on 3-pointers). I’ve been doing this for a while and have never seen this in a game I’ve scouted.
“I think Houston’s defense kept us on our heels. We dribbled on the spot. We weren’t going downhill and it was hard to go around them. That’s a great defense. I thought they had a great plan and they pressured us all.”
Houston took a 32-4 lead after two Edwards free throws with 6:49 left in the first half. Edwards had 14 points in the game opening run.
East Carolina’s 36 points was a season low and the second fewest points in school history. . The Pirates finished 19 of 28 from the free throw line.
Houston: The Cougars improved 10-0 against East Carolina in Houston and won 10 of their last 11 inter-school games. . Houston as a team had nine blocks, eight steals and 20 assists.
FIRST HALF STATISTICS
The Pirates had a season-low 14 first-half points and had a season-low 3 for 26 (11.5%) in the first half. Houston’s 14 first-half points allowed was the third fewest in a half in school history, followed by 12 first-half points allowed against UConn on December 28, 2016, and 13 first-half points allowed against East Carolina on December 28. February. 25th, 2018.
East Carolina: Travels to Memphis on Thursday.
Houston: Travels to Central Florida on January 29th.
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