HOUSTON (AP) — J’Wan Roberts had 17 points and nine rebounds, L.J. Cryer added 15 points, and No. 7 Houston defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 82-50 Saturday.
Cryer had 12 points in the first half, and Roberts scored 11 first-half points to drive Houston to a 14-point halftime lead.
“The thing about this team is I don’t know what their ceiling is,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I’ve had some teams that I knew they had a lower ceiling. This team has a higher ceiling.”
Ja’Vier Francis scored 13 points and Emanuel Sharp had 11 points for Houston (2-0), which shot 42%, including 6 of 22 on 3-pointers. Houston forced 17 Islanders turnovers, which they converted into 19 points.
“We’re still growing, but I like the potential of this team,” Sampson said. “I think this team can be really good. I really like this team. We have great player leadership.”
Lance-Amir Paul scored 10 points and Jordan Roberts added nine for the Islanders (1-1). Texas A&M-Corpus Christi shot 30%, but the team was 5 of 21 on 3-pointers.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Jim Shaw pointed to Houston’s 54-41 rebounding edge, specifically the Cougars’ 19-13 advantage in offensive rebounds, as a key factor.
“Unbelievable toughness on their part as far as rebounding the ball,” Shaw said. “I’m sure they beat us on the boards quite a bit. The game honors toughness, and they were – at this point – a little tougher than we were.”
Trailing 12-7 with 14 minutes remaining in the first half, Houston reeled off 12 straight points to open up a seven-point lead on a 3-pointer by Ramon Walker Jr. three minutes later.
The Islanders closed within 25-21 on an Owen Dease free throw with seven minutes left in the first half. But the Cougars finished the half on a 16-6 run to take a 41-27 lead into halftime on a 3-pointer by Cryer.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islanders, who are in their 25th season playing basketball, have never beaten a ranked team in program history. … The Islanders, who have 11 new players this season, were able to hang with Houston for most of the first half, but Houston’s size and speed was too much.
Houston: The Cougars struggled to start, shooting 2 for 12, but they heated up, hitting 11 of 23 to end the first half. … Houston leaned on the team’s defense and athleticism to create turnovers and second chances.
The teams combined to commit 40 fouls, but Houston was 20 of 34 from the free-throw line and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 7 of 12.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: Hosts Dallas Christian Monday
Houston: Hosts Stetson Monday to end the team’s season-opening three-game homestand.