HOUSTON — Ja'Vier Francis scored 14 points, star Marcus Sasser had 12 points in the first eight minutes before leaving with a cut over his eye, and top-ranked Houston coasted to a 76-42 win over North Florida on Tuesday night.
Sasser, who entered the game averaging 17.5 points, made two 3-pointers early as the Cougars scored the first eight points of the game. He continued his hot start and scored 12 points as Houston (9-0) built a 24-13 lead with about 12 minutes left in the first half. But, he got hit in the face soon after and left the game with a cut above his left eye.
A school spokesman said he received stitches for the cut and was questionable to return. But, he didn’t come back with the Cougars holding a huge lead for the rest of the night.
The Cougars were up by 10 about four minutes after Sasser’s injury and then used a 14-0 run, with two 3-pointers by Emanuel Sharp, to end the half and take a 42-18 lead into the break. The Ospreys missed eight shots and had four turnovers in that span, allowing Houston to pad the lead.
Houston held North Florida (2-6) to 29.2% shooting and forced 10 turnovers before the break.
The Cougars entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense by allowing just 48 points a game and continued their stingy defensive play Tuesday to stay undefeated.
Jarace Walker had 12 points with 10 rebounds for Houston, and Tramon Mark scored 10.
Jarius Hicklen made a 3-pointer for North Florida to start the second half, but the Cougars scored the next eight points to stretch the lead to 50-21 with about 14½ minutes to go.
Hicklen led the Ospreys with 12 points but also had five turnovers as they dropped their second straight game.
Sasser’s performance gave him 1,006 points in his career, making him the 50th player in school history to reach 1,000 points. His two 3-pointers Tuesday gave him 200 in his career, making him just the seventh Cougar to reach that mark.
The Cougars had another great defensive performance but might need to find a way to produce more offensively as they begin to face tougher competition beginning Saturday when they meet No. 8 Alabama.
North Florida: Hosts Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
Houston: Hosts Alabama on Saturday.