Houston holds off Texas A&M in overtime thriller to advance to the Sweet 16

The Coogs will take on Duke on Friday in Dallas. It’s a game you can watch live on KHOU 11.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Emanuel Sharp started overtime with a 3-pointer that put Houston ahead to stay as the top-seeded Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 back in Texas by topping No. 9 seed Texas A&M 100-95 on Sunday night.

The Aggies forced overtime with a furious rally, outscoring Houston 17-5 in the final two minutes of regulation. Andersson Garcia beat the buzzer with his ninth 3-pointer of the season, and then was mobbed by his teammates.

“The last two minutes was Murphy’s Law,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We kept missing some free throws. The ball was bouncing all over the place. They didn’t miss a 3. And they didn’t make an easy one. They were all hard 3’s.”

Sharp fouled out after his 3, finishing with 30 points. His teammates outscored Texas A&M 7-1 to start the extra session and close it out.

The win by Houston (32-4) means all eight teams seeded 1 and 2 advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time since the NCAA tourney started seeding in 1979. The top eight seeds also advanced in 2019, 2009, 1995 and 1989.

The Cougars will play Duke, a 93-55 winner over James Madison, on Friday in Dallas in the South Region semifinals. It’s a game you can catch live on KHOU 11. This will be Houston’s fifth straight Sweet 16 and 16th all-time.

They are playing in part for Reggie Chaney, a forward who was part of Houston’s Final Four team in 2021, who died in August at the age of 23. Chaney’s No. 32 is on a patch on Houston jerseys, and Sampson said at halftime he asked his Cougars what would Chaney do in this game.

“That was for big Reg,” Sampson said.

Jamal Shead had 21 points and 10 assists for Houston. He was one of four Cougars who fouled out.

Shead mentioned how Sampson talked about how hard Chaney would have played, pointing to the 32 on his jersey.

“We’re built for this,” Shead said. “I just miss my dog. On to the Sweet 16.”

Texas A&M (21-15) was trying to make the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018 in its second straight NCAA Tournament under coach Buzz Williams. The Aggies had been 6-1 in March only to revert to the team that struggled offensively much of the season.

The Cougars represented the Big 12 in their first season in the conference by adding to the Southeastern Conference’s misery. Only Tennessee advanced to the Sweet 16 out of the SEC’s eight teams in this tournament.

L.J. Cryer added 20 points, and J’Wan Roberts fought through a knee issue with 13.

Taylor had been on a scoring tear and hit a career-high seven 3s in the Aggies’ win over Nebraska. The guard missed his first seven shots and finished with 21 points on 5-of-25 shooting, including 3 of 13 beyond the arc.

Tyrece Radford, who missed the December loss to Houston, had 27 points. Manny Obaseki added 15 before fouling out, and Garcia had 12.

Houston led 43-38 after a fast-paced first half.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: The Aggies at least go home with a big win in the first round after leaving this tournament empty-handed a year ago. … They set several program records in this event in the opening win, including making 13 3s. In this game, the Aggies wound up 8 of 24 outside the arc and shot 29 of 45 at the free-throw line.

Houston: The Cougars improved to 8-2 as a No. 1 seed. … They now have won at least 32 games for the fifth time. Shead and fellow seniors Roberts and Ryan Elvin can try to add to their mark as the winningest four-year class in Cougars history already at 125-18. … Coach Kelvin Sampson now is 22-1 against the Aggies, including 21-1 with the Cougars.

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