Clutch Houston put-back sends them past Rutgers and into Sweet 16

·3 min read
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 21: Fabian White Jr. #35 and Tramon Mark #12 of the Houston Cougars celebrate at the NCAA tournament
Tramon Mark's clutch 3-point play late saved Houston and sent them into the Sweet 16. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Thanks to a clutch put-back and-one from Tramon Mark in the final seconds, No. 2 Houston is headed to its second straight Sweet 16.

The Cougars rallied back from a 10-point second-half hole to beat No. 10 seed Rutgers 63-60 on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in their second-round matchup at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Tramon Mark sinks put-back and-one

After a tight first half, Rutgers flew ahead early out of the break behind a huge 15-5 run to take a double digit lead by the midway point of the period, and looked to be in full control.

Yet by the time there was less than 30 seconds left on the clock, the Cougars had cut it back to just a two-point game.

That’s when Mark came in to save the day.

Houston guard DeJon Jarreau drove through the lane and put up a floater, but was just off target. With the ball up in the air, Mark came flying right in front of the rim and expertly tipped the ball back into the net — all while drawing a foul and earning himself a trip to the free throw line.

Mark — a freshman who averaged just more than 20 minutes per game off the bench alll season — then sank the free throw, which gave Houston a one-point lead.

"That was Tramon Mark, a freshman, doing what we do best, rebounding a missed shot, putting it in and making a free throw," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said on TBS. "At the end of the game we found a way to win and we survive in the tournament. Couldn't be more proud."

Marcus Sasser then came up with a huge steal on the other end and made a pair of free throws to give them the three-point win.

Quentin Grimes led Houston with 22 points and nine rebounds in the win, while shooting 5-of-9 from the field. Jarreau added 17 points and five rebounds, and Mark finished with eight points off the bench. Jarreau hurt his hip after taking a brutal fall midway through the second half, too, and was seen clearly in pain several times through the end of the game.

"My hip hurts so bad, but I just ain't want to go home," Jarreau said. "I told coach Sampson to put me back in, and I just did what I had to do to try to help my team get this win. Shoutout my team for having my back."

Geo Baker led Rutgers with 14 points in the loss, and Montez Mathis added 10 points off the bench. They were the only two players for the Knights who scored in double figures.

With the win, Houston will advance to the Sweet 16 to take on No. 11 Syracuse, who knocked off No. 3 West Virginia behind an impressive outing from Buddy Boeheim earlier on Sunday.

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