The third day of the men’s tournament


Marcus Sasser looked nothing short of magnificent with 22 points as top-seeded Houston throttled local favorite Auburn in the second half to win 81-64 in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.

Cougars (33-3) overcame a 10-point halftime deficitcoming back after the break with a chip on his shoulders.

By essentially shutting down the lane, Houston played with the desperation of a national championship contender that wasn’t ready to suffer the same fate as No. 1s Purdue and Kansas, who had already been sent home.

Led by Tremon Mark with 26 points, Houston faces either No. 4 Indiana or No. 5 Miami, who play Sunday in the Sweet 16 tournament in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Tigers (21-13) were held to more than 10 1/2 minutes without a field goal and shot just 4 of 24 from the field in the second half.

Auburn committed plenty of fouls, only to struggle mightily at the line 19-of-36. Jaylin Williams and Johnny Broom led the Tigers with 14 points apiece.

Sasser was dealing with a groin injury over the past week, but it didn’t seem to cause him any problems. When he drained a 3-pointer to put Houston ahead, 46-45, he let out an emphatic scream as he walked back down the court.

He finished 5 of 9 from behind the arc.

Sasser’s only problem was getting into trouble. The All-American guard and fellow point guard Jamal Shead were both forced to the bench with four fouls each, and the game was still in doubt.

But Mark allowed the Cougars to continue their offense, and the Jarras Walker-led defense just kept Auburn from getting back into the game.

Houston had 12 blocks, half of which came from Walker. Houston scored the last nine points to break things open at the end, with Sasser making another key shot from beyond the 3-point line.

Auburn went on a 17-4 run over the final 5 1/2 minutes of the first half. Williams scored eight of those points, making a 3-pointer and also making a three-point play.

The third day of the men’s tournament

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