HOUSTON – Marcus Sasser made seven 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 26 points, and No. 15 Houston beat Northwestern State 99-58 on Tuesday night.
Sasser had 23 points by halftime on 7-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc as the Cougars (6-1) built a 60-25 lead at the break. He finished 9 of 17 from the field for the game.
Sasser credited Houston's culture and maturity for its strong play throughout the blowout win.
“The starting five ... we are all experienced guys, so even if the level of play is down, we are focused on ourselves,” Sasser said. “Offensive rebounds, playing defense, you have to do that no matter who you are playing against.”
Taze Moore scored 17 points, Jamal Shead added 12 points and nine assists, Tramon Mark scored 12 points and Kyler Edwards had 10 points for Houston, which shot a season-high 54% and made a season-high 14 3-pointers on 34 attempts (41.2%).
Mark missed the first three games of the season with a shoulder injury and saw his most playing time of the season at 19 minutes, while scoring in double figures for the first time this season.
“Those first three games were tough sitting out just knowing I could be out there with my team,” Mark said. “I’m trying to be patient. Injuries are injuries. I had one, but I am just getting through it, being patient every day. It’s already getting better, so I feel better about myself and my team moving forward.”
Houston forced Northwestern State (1-7) into 21 turnovers, which the Cougars turned into 32 points. Houston, which won its 29th straight at home, had a season high in points.
“I just think Houston’s very talented, obviously,” Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. “Coach (Kelvin) Sampson does a great job. They’re so disciplined. They’re going to do exactly what he wants to do. I admire their tenaciousness and their ability to execute what their coach tells them to do. ... I think they’re long and athletic and shoot the ball, and they’re a handful for anybody.”
Emareyon McDonald scored 17 points and Kendal Coleman had 11 points and five rebounds for the Demons, who lost their fifth straight. Northwestern State shot 38% and was 7 of 14 on 3-pointers.
“The second half, we came out, we didn’t shut it down, we kept playing hard,” McConathy said. “It’s so hard when they score 60 on you in the first half just to not shut it down.”
Houston outscored the Demons 22-7 over the opening 8:10, capped by a dunk by J’Wan Roberts. Sasser had nine points in the run.
Northwestern State: The Demons have not defeated an AP Top 25 team since beating No. 15 Iowa in March 2006. Northwestern State struggled against Houston’s size, speed and athleticism and was overmatched in the paint and on the perimeter.
Houston: The Cougars won the rebounding battle 43-23 and dominated the offensive glass 19-6, leading to 20 second-chance points. Houston finished with a season-high 27 assists. The Cougars had 48 points in the paint.
Houston finished with nine dunks, including four by Moore. He had two alley-oop dunks in the second half, including one where he was above the rim when he caught the pass.
Sampson has other things he wants Moore to work on.
“He’s got to start making better decisions with the ball,” Sampson said. “We aren’t the (Harlem) Globetrotters.”
Northwestern State: At Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Houston: Hosts Bryant on Friday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25