March Madness: Houston survives Texas A&M rally, buzzer-beater to advance past Aggies in thriller

Houston appeared to have a win over Texas A&M on Sunday.

Instead, the top-ranked Cougars found themselves in a fight that threatened their NCAA Tournament career.

No. 9 Texas A&M rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final two minutes to force overtime in a second-round NCAA Tournament game. But Houston survived a 100-95 thriller to advance to a Sweet 16 showdown with Duke.

Houston blows big lead, continues to win

With 1:48 remaining, Houston led 82-71. But the Aggies rallied to cut the lead to 86-83 with 45 seconds left. They twice saw game-tying 3-pointers in the game's final 10 seconds. Wade Taylor IV missed both.

But the officials whistled for a jump ball with 1.2 seconds left on the rebound, giving Texas A&M possession. This time, the Aggies didn't miss a beat. Anderson Garcia caught the bounce off the inbounds, then connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer.

Houston looked in dire straits heading into overtime. Starters Javier Francis and LJ Cryer both looked on the bench after fouling out in regulation. Jamal Shade and Emmanuel Sharp joined them on the bench after fouling out in the extra session. But before he was fouled, Shade scored five points in overtime and assisted on a Sharp 3-pointer that started the scoring.

Senior walk-on ice game after starters foul out

After Sharp's 3 gave them an 89-86 lead, the Cougars never trailed in overtime. They extended their lead to 93-87, but faced another tense moment in the final seconds of the game.

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With four fouled-out starters missing, little-used senior walk-on Ryan Elvin put a trip to the Sweet 16 in jeopardy to the free-throw line.

Elvin, who is averaging 0.9 points in 2.9 minutes per game this season, found himself on two free throws to give Houston a 98-95 lead. A free throw would push Houston's lead to two with 17 seconds left. He missed the first one. He then sank his second, increasing his career free-throw tally to 11 for 8.

When the final buzzer sounded after a frantic final few minutes, it was a relief for the top-seeded Cougars. For Texas A&M, that means a heartbeat.

The emotion was palpable in the Houston tunnel after the game.

The Aggies challenge Houston's tough defense

The score was a shootout for Houston, which is used to locking down opponents. Houston entered Sunday's game allowing opponents an NCAA-low 57 points per game and a 37.8% field-goal percentage. It took first place Kenbom's adjusted defensive ability And has held 10 opponents to fewer than 50 points this season for a No. 1 seed.

Texas A&M outlasted all of that action on Sunday and kept Houston under pressure until the final buzzer. In the end, it wasn't enough.

Houston's offense had some issues as the Cougars shot 51.5% from the field and had three players score 20 points or more. Sheed, Houston's presumptive All-America point guard, orchestrated the effort. He finished the game with 21 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.

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Sharpe shot 7 of 14 from the field for 30 points. Cryer added 20 points, four assists and three rebounds. Everyone watched the tense final seconds from the bench after being fouled out.

Senior guard Tyrece Radford led the Auggie effort with 27 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Taylor fought hard from the floor and scored 21 points. The Aggies' leading scorer on the season (19 points per game) went 5 of 26 and 3 of 13 from 3-point range on Sunday.

Texas A&M's season ends while Houston extends to the nearby NCAA Regional in Dallas.

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