No. 4 Houston overwhelms Kansas State despite subpar shooting

Jamal Shead and J’Wan Roberts combined for 31 points and the fourth-ranked Houston Cougars turned a stifling, first-half defensive effort into a 74-52 victory over visiting Kansas State on Saturday.

The Cougars (18-2, 5-2 Big 12) extended their homecourt winning streak to 17 games by opening the first half with an 11-0 run and closing it with a 9-0 surge en route to a 41-21 lead. Houston kept the Wildcats (14-6, 4-3) comfortably at bay throughout the second half.

Shead paired 17 points with three assists while Roberts added 14 points and six rebounds. Damian Dunn chipped in 13 points and four boards for the Cougars, who led by as many as 29.

The Wildcats started 0 for 5 from the floor with three turnovers while the Cougars darted to an 11-0 lead. Cam Carter ended that skid with a jumper at the 14:12 mark, and Kansas State shaved the deficit to six before the Cougars responded with an 8-2 run capped by a Dunn 3-pointer.

Carter scored nine of the Wildcats’ first 12 points, and his 3-pointer pulled Kansas State to within 21-12 with 8:51 left in the half. Houston seized control with an 8-0 spurt that featured 3s from Emanuel Sharp and L.J. Cryer plus a Joseph Tugler alley-oop off a Wildcats turnover.

And, despite missing eight consecutive shots late in the first half, the Cougars maintained a double-digit lead that they extended to 20 points by the intermission with their closing rally.

The Cougars made headway with their defense and prowess on the offensive glass. Houston turned 10 Kansas State turnovers into 15 first-half points and recorded 11 second-chance points off 10 offensive rebounds before the break. Kansas State had more turnovers than field goals (eight) in the first half, enabling Houston to survive a poor shooting performance — 40 percent for the game — of its own.

Houston missed 8 of 14 attempts inside the arc and finished 7 for 14 from the free-throw line before the break. But Roberts and Sharp scored nine points apiece for the Cougars, and when the Wildcats closed to within 43-29 on an Arthur Kaluma 3-pointer with 15:05 left to play, Houston reclaimed its 20-point advantage at the 12:30 mark when Ja’Vier Francis sank a pair of free throws.

Carter scored a team-high 16 points for Kansas State before fouling out with 4:47 left. Kaluma and Dai Dai Ames scored 11 each for the Wildcats, who shot 40.4% with 18 turnovers.