ORLANDO, Fla. — Emanuel Sharp came off the bench to score 18 points and No. 3 Houston bounced back from a loss that knocked it from the top spot in the rankings, beating UCF 82-71 on Wednesday night.
Jarace Walker added 17 points, Jamal Shead had 14 points and 10 assists, and Marcus Sasser also scored 14 for the Cougars (19-2, 7-1 American Athletic Conference), who lost 56-55 at home to Temple on Sunday.
Ithiel Horton scored 18 points and Taylor Hendricks had 17 for UCF (13-7, 4-4). Hendricks' three-point play capped a 6-0 run that pulled the Knights within 67-62 with 7:02 remaining.
Horton was called for a flagrant foul with 3:19 left in the game. Sharp made two free throws to extend Houston's lead to 74-64.
Shead swished a contested 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 78-67 lead with 2:15 remaining and Walker sank a shot from the baseline to make it 80-67 with 1:25 left, matching Houston’s biggest lead of the game.
UCF took an early 8-2 lead before Houston responded with an 11-0 run. The Cougars led 38-34 at halftime.
Houston: The Cougars controlled the paint and the pace of the game for stretches in the second half, but foul trouble kept them from pulling away until the final three minutes. ... The Cougars shot 50.9% from the floor.
UCF: The Knights could not keep up the pace in the second half and struggled to handle Houston’s length on the inside. ... UCF hit just one of its final seven shots.
Houston: Hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.
UCF: Hosts Temple on Saturday.