Houston Dominated Arizona To Send Home A Third 1-Seed From The NCAA Tournament

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In the opening game of the Sweet 16 on Thursday evening, the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs were upset by the Arkansas Razorbacks, setting the stage for a wild night in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Mike Krzyzewski avoided retirement in leading the Duke Blue Devils to a come-from-behind win over Texas Tech but, in the finale of the evening, another No. 1 seed went down when the Arizona Wildcats were knocked off by Kelvin Sampson and the No. 5 seed Houston Cougars.

From the opening tip-off, Houston was in relative control, taking a 14-4 lead and never trailing over the course of 40 minutes.

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While the Cougars were not a traditional No. 5 seed in that Houston entered the night at No. 2 on KenPom and with a 31-5 record, Arizona was flummoxed most of the way. The Wildcats did climb within a single possession on multiple occasions in the second half, however, and Arizona did keep things interesting for the majority of the night.

Still, Houston stiffened on defense, holding Arizona to 33 percent shooting and forcing double-digit turnovers. The Cougars made enough big shots (including 9-of-20 from three-point range in the game) to build a double-digit lead late in the game and, while Arizona was within two possessions in the final two minutes, Houston was able to hold the line.

In some respects, Houston was a brutal draw for Arizona in the regional semifinal, simply because of the pedigree of the Cougars. Houston made the Final Four a year ago under Sampson, and the Cougars are battle-tested and talented. Still, Houston did lose leading scorer Marcus Sasser for the season back in December, and the performance of the Cougars should not be understated against a legitimately elite Arizona team.

From here, Houston will face the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats on Saturday with a chance to reach the Final Four for the second straight season. There is nothing assured about that contest but, in a wild twist, Houston is likely to enter the Elite Eight matchup as the betting favorite against the higher seed, and the Cougars earned a great deal of respect with a wire-to-wire upset on Thursday.





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