Rob Gray scores 39, wills Houston to dramatic last-second win over San Diego State

The Dagger

Houston made only eight of its 26 second-half shot attempts Thursday night against San Diego State.

Rob Gray made seven of them.

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Gray put up a career- and game-high 39 points, including the game-winning layup with two seconds remaining to cap off a thrilling 67-65 victory — the Cougars’ first in the NCAA tournament since 1984.


The winning bucket for Gray, a senior guard playing in his first NCAA tournament game, capped off a wild final two minutes of regulation. Houston, the No. 6 seed in the West, went into halftime with a 10-point lead. That lead grew to 13 at one point, but the No. 11 Aztecs chipped away throughout the half as UH — aside from Gray — scuffled offensively.

San Diego State finally tied the game, 62-62, on a Devin Watson 3-pointer with 1:08 to play.

But it didn’t take long for Gray to respond. Nineteen seconds later, Gray drilled a trey of his own to put Houston back ahead by three.

But once again, Watson, after struggling all game long, drilled another three to again tie the game — this time at 65 with 36 seconds to play.


With the pressure turned up, Gray would not let his team lose. Gray, who scored 23 of his team’s 28 second-half points, let the clock wind inside five seconds before attacking the basket. This time, he worked his way through the Aztecs’ defense and got a right-handed lay-in to fall to put UH back in front, 67-65.

After a long inbounds pass, SDSU’s Trey Kell subsequently got a clean look at what would have been a game-winning buzzer-beating trey, but it clanked off the rim, allowing Houston to survive.

With the win, Houston moves on to face the winner of Thursday night’s game between No. 3 Michigan and No. 14 Montana. And with Gray performing at such an elite level, the Cougars certainly could prove to be a dangerous team. But you can’t expect him push 40 points on a nightly basis, so his teammates will need to step up in the Round of 32.

Houston guard Rob Gray, right, is pressured by San Diego State guard Jeremy Hemsley, left, during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament first-round game Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Houston guard Rob Gray, right, is pressured by San Diego State guard Jeremy Hemsley, left, during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament first-round game Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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