WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jarace Walker had 15 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:27 left, and No. 3 Houston rallied to beat Wichita State 70-61 on Thursday night.
Marcus Sasser also scored 15 for the Cougars (21-2, 9-1 American Athletic Conference), who trailed by six midway through the second half. Jamal Shead added 13 points and seven assists.
“We are showing signs of maturity, not getting too high or too low,” Shead said. “We are following our leader, Marcus. When he came in and started to do his thing, we rallied behind him.”
All five starters scored in double digits to help Houston win its third straight since a one-point loss to Temple.
Jaykwon Walton equaled his career high with 24 points for the Shockers (11-11, 4-6), who went 3 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 39% from the field overall.
“I thought the difference in the game was the 3-point line,” Wichita State coach Isaac Brown said. “We went 3 for 20 and, down the stretch, their big man, Walker, was 3 for 6 from the 3-point line and I thought that was the difference in the game.”
James Rojas added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Shockers. Kenny Pohto pulled down 12 boards to go with eight points.
Coming off a career-best 25 points against Cincinnati, Walker shot just 3 for 9 in the first half. But he drained a 3-pointer to trim Houston’s deficit to 50-47 with 10:17 remaining, then tied it 54-all with another 3 at the 6:15 mark.
Walker followed with his 3 from the corner that put the Cougars ahead 57-54, and they opened a seven-point cushion with under three minutes left after a layup by Shead and a 3 from Tramon Mark.
“We made some bad mistakes, but when it came winning time, I think our DNA kicked in,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We know how to win and there is a lot to be said about that.”
In a matchup between the top two scoring defenses in the AAC, the Cougars held a 30-29 lead at halftime.
Wichita State built a seven-point advantage early in the second half as foul trouble began to pile up for Houston.
Houston: Improved to 9-2 against the Shockers in the AAC era. Houston evened the all-time series at 18 apiece dating to 1949.
Wichita State: Fell to 1-4 in conference home games this season.
Houston visits Temple on Sunday looking to avenge its only conference loss.
Wichita State plays at Tulsa on Sunday.