Cryer leads No. 6 Houston over Towson in Charleston


CHARLESTON, SC – LJ Cryer scored 18 points and used No. 6 Houston went on a 19-4 run in the first half to take control en route to a 65-49 victory over Towson on Thursday night to advance in the Charleston Classic.

Cryer is among the new faces for a program that is still finding its rhythm, according to coach Kelvin Sampson.

“It’s still so early in the season, I don’t think anyone is looking at their teams as finished products,” he said after his team opened 4-0 for the fourth straight season.

Sampson’s team lost a pair of NBA first-rounders in Jerace Walker, the No. 1 pick. 8 in the draft, and Marcus Sasser, who was taken 25th. He admits that despite his team’s strong start, there is much more work to be done before the season really gets going.

“We’re all searching and trying to figure out how to fix this, how to fix that,” Sampson said.

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The Cougars will face the winner of Friday’s Utah-Wake Forest game for a spot in Sunday’s championship game in the eight-team event.

Cryer got off to a strong start for Houston as the team turned a tight game early into a boundary. He had a three-point play and a go-ahead 3-pointer as the Cougars moved into a 24-7 lead on J’wan Roberts’ three-pointer with 9:11 left before halftime.

Towson (2-2) got no closer than the final score the rest of the way.

Emmanuel Sharp added 14 points. He and Cryer had three of Houston’s seven 3-pointers. Roberts finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Cougars, seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament last year, strong this season. They started with three wins by 30 or more points before going to Charleston, then leading Towson by 25 points midway through the second half.

Towson struggled to find its shot, especially from the outside, where it made just four of 15 attempts from behind the arc.

Christian May had 10 points for the Tigers.

Big picture

Towson: The Tigers will have to be more accurate if they hope to compete in the Cumann Luthchleas Gael, formerly known as the Colonial Athletic Association. Towson shot just 25% in the first half (5 of 20) to put themselves in a big hole.

Houston: These tournaments are an early opportunity to preview what may lie ahead from the conference and NCAA seasons. The Cougars, led by coach Kelvin Sampson, handled the first test well, but figure to have a sterner opponent in either Utah of the PAC-12 or Wake of the ACC on Friday.

Faulty finish

Sampson will want to see the Cougars clean up their execution late in the game. Houston made just one of its last 11 attempts and didn’t make a basket for nearly the final four minutes. The cold finish allowed Towson to tighten what had been a comfortable cushion for the Cougars.

Up next

Towson will face Wake Forest on Friday night.

Houston will face Utah on Friday.

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