HOUSTON (AP)Tramon Mark tied a career high with 22 points, Josh Carlton added a season-high 17 and No. 15 Houston won its third straight, beating Bryant 111-44 on Friday night.
Fabian White Jr. had 13 of his 16 points in the first half, and Carlton scored eight as the Cougars (7-1) built a 52-21 lead at halftime.
Carlton, a UConn graduate transfer, had one of his best games so far with the Cougars.
”It’s not his size as much as his skill set,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. ”Josh has really good hands. That’s a gift for a guy his size, and I think he’s gotten a lot better since he’s been here. He’s learned to be patient.”
Kyler Edwards had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Marcus Sasser scored 12 points for Houston, which won its 30th straight home game. The Cougars shot a season-high 62% and made 10 of 23 3-pointers.
Houston forced Bryant (3-5) into 19 turnovers, which the Cougars turned into 31 points, and held a 63-21 advantage in points in the paint.
”I think over the next couple weeks – two or three weeks – we’ll continue to get better,” Sampson said. ”We do a good job of preparing our kids on how to guard actions. We were prepared for their actions. We knew they were a 3-point shooting heavy team. We did a good job of just about everything.”
Houston scored a season high in points and had its largest margin of victory since beating Florida Tech by 69 points on Nov. 22, 2005.
The margin of victory tied for the third largest in school history, with a 67-point win over Texas Lutheran on Dec. 8, 1981, and trailing the Florida Tech win and a 77-point win over Valparaiso on Feb. 24, 1968.
Chris Childs scored 13 points and Peter Kiss and Hall Elisias each had nine points for Bryant. The Bulldogs shot 27% and were 6 of 33 on 3-pointers.
”They’re a much better team than us,” Bryant coach Jared Grasso said. ”We’re struggling right now. We’re not shooting the ball very well, not taking care of the ball. We’re a work in progress. We’ll get there. I’m glad it’s still December.”
The margin of defeat was the worst in school history for Bryant.
Grasso said his team will have to move on to the next game fast and forget about the defeat.
”If we’re going to sit and keep that in our stomachs, it will be a miserable existence,” Grasso said.
Houston jumped out to a 20-5 lead in the first 6 1/2 minutes, capped by a jumper from White, who had 11 points in the opening run.
After the Bulldogs cut the lead to six on a 3-pointer by Kiss to cap a 9-0 run, the Cougars responded with a 17-2 spurt to up the lead to 37-16 on a layup by Carlton with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Bryant: The Bulldogs struggled with Houston’s size and speed, and had trouble containing the Cougars with their traps or full-court press. . Elisias, who entered third in the nation averaging four blocks per game, finished with none.
Houston: For a third straight game, the Cougars put the game away by halftime. Houston has led by 22 at the half in each game of its three-game winning streak. Houston shot 64% in the first half. . The Cougars finished with 63 bench points and held a 47-28 rebounding advantage.
HE SAID IT
”We’re not a great team. I know what great teams look like. We’re a team that’s still getting better. You start the year off searching for an identity. There’s always three phases a team goes through at the start of the season: You hope you can win; you think you can win; and then you know you can win.
”After we got back from the Maui Tournament, these kids know they can win, so now, it’s about building on that every day.” – Sampson, on his team’s progress.
Bryant: At Cincinnati on Sunday.
Houston: Hosts Alcorn State on Monday.