Road warriors

Top 10 teams Houston, Duke buck recent trend of losing on the road. A peek at how uncommon this season's upsets are. Plus, Charlotte's now the favorite to win the AAC, coaching hot seats, and much more.

Good morning! For a while on Monday night, it seemed like there’d be yet another road upset to cover. But Jamal Shead and Houston had other ideas.

Let's get to it.

1. Houston lose? Not with Shead around

Life on the road is tough. That’s been established multiple nights this season.

So when No. 4 Houston entered halftime with an 8-point lead at Texas, Kelvin Sampson wasn’t concerned about how Top 10 teams have fared on the road. Not in the Big 12, where the eventual champion might end up with six losses.

And certainly not when Texas made that halftime lead evaporate over the first 8 minutes of the second half. Thankfully for the Cougars, they have Jamal Shead.

Shead scored a game-high 25 points as Houston beat Texas, 76-72 in overtime on Monday night. The 6-foot-1 senior carried Houston (19-2, 6-2 in Big 12) offensively — 14 points came in second half — on a night when buckets were hard to come by.

Neither team shot better than 44% from the field. It was a physical game (no surprise) where the best offense was frequently an offensive rebound (also no surprise when it comes to Houston; it’s sixth in offensive rebound % in D-I).

“We’re not really trying to be the prettiest team. That’s never been my deal. We're just trying to win the game,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Also Houston’s deal? A team effort. Shead was the focal point, but it was senior J’Wan Roberts (14 points, 8 boards, 2 blocks) who made the tiebreaking layup in OT, and sophomore Emanuel Sharp (13 points, 8 boards) who clinched it with two free throws. Texas (14-7, 3-5) limited Shead’s offensive looks late in the game and in overtime by face-guarding him.

Just as important was Shead played with four fouls late in the game, and fouled out in OT. He still played 42 minutes, and certainly looked like the nation’s top point guard.

Some might think the Austin native was motivated to perform against a school that didn’t recruit him. Nah. Shead plays hard all the time. Besides, he’s delighted to be at Houston.

“Coming out of high school, I didn’t think I was good enough to get to the Division I level for a while and one that school that showed interest in me was Houston,” he said afterward. “The one school that showed interest in me first got me.”

Did he celebrate with his family for a bit afterward? Sure. But that applies to every victory.

“As long as we win, [mom] is happy.”

Next up? A Saturday trip to Kansas. Win there, and everyone’s gonna be happy.

2. Duke snags rare road win at Va. Tech + other results

Winning at Virginia Tech’s rarely been easy for Duke in the last 10 years. Entering Tuesday night, the Hokies had won four of the last five (oddly enough, it lost in 2021 to a 13-11 Duke team).

That history didn’t seem to faze No. 7 Duke.

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