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NCAAs in Memphis: No. 1 Seed Houston Obliterates No. 16 Seed Longwood 86-46.

The University of Memphis hosted first and second round NCAA tournament games at FedExForum.
The University of Memphis hosted first and second round NCAA tournament games at FedExForum.

The last game of the first round of the NCAA tournament contests in Memphis saw the No. 1 seed Houston Cougars defeat the No. 16 seed Longwood Lancers 86-46. In a game that was sparsely competitive, Houston raced to a dominant win over Longwood. 

Houston finished 30-3, winning the Big 12 in their first year in the conference. The Cougars are led by senior point guard Jamal Shead. 

“Our best players have always been our hardest workers,” said Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson. “And that's a big part of our culture.” 

The Cougars knew coming into this game that Longwood was going to be a veteran-heavy team that wanted to play slow. However, it was apparent from the opening tip that the Lancers were never going to get into a rhythm. The Cougars scored the first ten points of the game and by the time Longwood had blinked, they faced a double-digit deficit. 

Houston excels at forcing the opposing offense to be uncomfortable and it showed, forcing fourteen turnovers in the first half and allowing zero points in the paint for the first twenty minutes. Longwood’s starting forwards combined to shoot just 1-6 in the first half and could never find any good looks at all. 

Meanwhile the Cougars did a great job in controlling the momentum from the first jump ball. Houston forced the Lancers to use the entire shot clock without allowing the dribbler any space to operate. Houston had seven fastbreaks in the first half to Longwood’s zero. 

Longwood was able to make a mini run to bring the game to 14-9, but Houston shut down any hopes of a Cinderella story with nine consecutive points scored. From that point on, the game was a formality. Houston took a twenty-seven-point lead into the half and never looked back. 

The second half was largely uneventful besides two moments. On the court, Houston starting guard Emmanuel Sharp went down hard on a loose ball and was noticeably favoring his right leg. Sharp’s presence is a must if Houston wants to beat Texas A&M, so his health on Sunday is paramount.  

The second being off the court, at the twelve-minute point in the second half, Longwood’s tuba player became the star of the evening; getting the mostly sparse FedExForum crowd to participate in a lovely rendition of “charge.” 

The win earns the Cougars a Sunday rematch against Texas A&M. Houston played the Aggies on December 12, getting a very close 70-66 victory. Both teams looked to be in great form in their respective first round matchups, so the rematch should be a great game. 

“A little animosity may be behind it, but we don’t look at it like that,” said Houston guard Damian Dunn when asked about Texas A&M. “We’re just looking at it like we’re trying to win and survive.” 

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