Houston Shead(s) Iowa State

Houston PG scores 26 as No. 2 Cougars outlast Cyclones in Top 10 showdown. Plus, Virginia's offense vanishes, Colgate clinches Patriot League and much more.

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Offense was optional for some of the teams playing on ESPN last night. Yeesh. We’ll explore that a bit below, plus dive into the rest of Monday’s news.

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1. Houston outlasts Iowa State, in control of Big 12

This was always going to be a different kind of Top 10 showdown.

No. 2 Houston led No. 6 Iowa Stat from start to finish in a 73-65 win on Monday night, giving it sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with five games to play.

For a while, it looked like the first team to 50 points would win — not a surprise given these two are ranked 1st and 3rd in adjusted defensive efficiency on kenpom — but both teams upped their games in the second half. The difference was the Cougars (23-3, 10-3 in Big 12) had Jamal Shead, who’s closing in on Big 12 POY and is in the running for first-team All-America status.

Shead scored 26 points, including 20 in the second half (on 5-of-7 field goal attempts) when Iowa State was starting to deliver big shots of its own. The Cyclones (20-6, 9-4) twice came within four points in the second half, but could never come closer. Shead also had six assists and three steals.

“They just hit timely shot after timely shot,” coach TJ Otzelberger said. “Anytime we had any type of surge or push, they would hit a big shot and answer.”

It’s a credit to Houston’s defense — it forced 16 turnovers, held the Cyclones to 41.8% shooting and to .99 points per possession, their lowest since Jan. 9 — and its ball control. It’s second in the nation in turnover percentage (25.7%); Houston only committed nine, or 13.7% of its possessions.

“If you have single-digit turnovers against Iowa State, you have a chance,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I thought the key tonight was single-digit turnovers. We had nine turnovers, and we turned them over 16 times and scored 20 points off their turnovers. That was the story of the game for us.”

Houston’s now won 20 consecutive home games. It’s at Baylor on Saturday. A win there would be a massive next step toward winning the Big 12 in its debut season with the league.

2. Virginia forgets how to score

How bad was Virginia’s 75-41 loss to Virginia tech on Monday? Let us count the ways.

  • It’s the worst ACC loss in 15 seasons under Tony Bennett, and nearly the worst in program history.

  • The Hokies went on a 20-0 in the first half, and held Virginia to just one basket over a 14-minute stretch.

  • It’s the fourth time this season the Cavs have scored fewer than 50 points. They’ve scored 90 points in their last 80 minutes of game action.

  • The Hoos dropped from 53 on kenpom to 65. Va Tech is now ranked 51.

  • Virginia’s .67 ppp marks the worst offensive performance in almost two years AND was their second-worst defensive performance (1.22) this season.

Basically, when it’s gone bad for Virginia this season, it’s been real bad.

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