Edwards leads No. 10 Houston to 79-36 win over East Carolina

Houston guard Ramon Walker Jr. (3) and guard Kyler Edwards (11) bump chests after a score by Edwards during the first half against East Carolina in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Justin Rex) (JUSTIN REX, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Kyler Edwards had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and No. 10 Houston used a big first half to rout East Carolina, 79-36, on Saturday night.

Edwards scored 17 first half points as the Cougars (17-2, 6-0 American) built a 44-14 halftime lead. Edwards, who finished with six 3-pointers, has scored at least 23 points in each of the last three games and made at least six 3-pointers.

“We’re a ball movement team; we’re not a ball dominant team,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “A lot of times the ball finds him, and that’s a credit to his teammates. I don’t think we ran any plays for Kyler tonight. The ball just found him.”

Josh Carlton added 14 points and nine rebounds for Houston, which extended its win streak to nine games and won its 36th straight home game. The Cougars are 6-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1983-84 season.

The Cougars, who shot 48%, outrebounded East Carolina (11-7, 2-4) 49-33 and held a 19-5 advantage in second chance points. Since losing leading scorer Marcus Sasser in late December, Houston is 6-0.

“Playing hard on defense, rebounding, 50-50 balls that’s what the foundation is,” Sampson said. “We try to take advantage of our guys’ strengths. We try to play to their strength, but I thought tonight first half and second half it was probably defensively the best this team has played (since losing Sasser).”

Tristen Newton finished with 14 points and six rebounds for the Pirates.

“It was absolute domination from start to end by Houston,” East Carolina coach Joe Dooley said. “They controlled every aspect of the game. We didn’t respond, which was very disappointing, and I thought they absolutely dominated every component of the game.”

East Carolina set school records for fewest field goals with eight and lowest field goal percentage at 16%. The previous low for fewest field goals was 11 against College of Charleston on Dec. 15, 2016 and the previous record for lowest field goal percentage was 21.1% against Clemson on Dec. 29, 2004.

“I’ve done this a long time, and I’ve never seen shooting stats like that from us,” Dooley said. “We shot 16% and 5% (1-19 on 3-pointers). I’ve done this awhile, and I’ve never seen that in a game I’ve scouted.

“I think Houston’s defense had us backed up on our heels. We dribbled in place. We didn’t get downhill, and it was hard to get around them. That’s great defense. I thought they had a great plan, and they pressured us out of everything.”

Houston jumped out a to a 32-4 lead on two free throws by Edwards with 6:49 remaining in the first half. Edwards had 14 points in the game-opening run.

BIG PICTURE

East Carolina: The 36 points was a season low and tied for the second fewest points scored in school history. … The Pirates finished 19 of 28 from the free throw line.

Houston: The Cougars improved to 10-0 against East Carolina in Houston and have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the schools. … Houston had nine blocks, eight steals and 20 assists as a team.

FIRST HALF STATS

The Pirates scored a season-low 14 first half points and shot a season-low 3 for 26 (11.5%) in the first half. The 14 points Houston allowed in the first half was tied for the third least allowed in a half in school history trailing 12 allowed in the first half against UConn on Dec. 28, 2016 and 13 allowed in the first half against East Carolina on Feb. 25, 2018.

UP NEXT

East Carolina: Travels to Memphis on Thursday.

Houston: Travels to Central Florida on Jan. 29.

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