No. 21 Houston tops Wichita State, advances to AAC final

Houston guard Rob Gray, left, is fouled by Wichita State guard Austin Reaves (12) after stealing an inbounds pass at the end of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. Houston won 77-74. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Rob Gray had a key steal and scored 33 points, including two free throws with 5 seconds remaining, as No. 21 Houston held off Wichita State 77-74 in an American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal on Saturday.

Corey Davis Jr. scored 19 points for the Cougars (26-6), who advanced to play No. 8 Cincinnati in the championship game.

Houston led by as many as nine points in the first half before the lead changed hands or was tied eight times in the final seven minutes.

With the Cougars trailing 74-73, Gray intercepted a pass near midcourt and drove to the basket, handing off to Galen Robinson for a layup with 1:27 remaining. Houston sealed the victory when Robinson intercepted an in-bounds pass with 5 seconds left and a foul by the Shockers sent Gray to the free-throw line.

Landry Shamet led Wichita State (25-7) with 19 points while Shaquille Morris had 12, including 10 in the final seven minutes to keep the game close. Rashard Kelly and Austin Reaves each scored 10.

After trailing almost the entire game, Wichita State tied the score at 54 on a 3-pointer by Shamet with 9:37 remaining. Kelly gave Wichita State its first lead, 60-59, since the opening minutes.

The Shockers, who came into the game averaging 83.3 points per game, were cold in the first half, when they shot just 27 percent (8 of 30) from the field.

Davis sparked Houston early by scoring eight consecutive points, allowing the Cougars to open a 20-11 lead. The led 37-31 at halftime.


Houston: After losing their opener in this tournament the past two years, the Cougars are thrilled to be in the title game.

Wichita State: This first season in the American Athletic Conference has been a good one for the Shockers, despite Saturday's loss. They are ready for the NCAA Tournament.


Houston: Plays the AAC championship game against Cincinnati on Sunday.

Wichita State: Waits to see where it opens the NCAA Tournament.