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Houston survives Rutgers in epic comeback to reach Sweet 16

It was a bit of Houston’s outstanding defense, a dash of terrific execution down the stretch, with some failed strategy by Rutgers thrown in.

Houston Cougars forward Fabian White Jr. grabs a rebound in front of Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Cliff Omoruyi during the second half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 seed Houston Cougars survived and advanced past the No. 10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights for a 63-60 win on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Coogs scored the last seven points of the game, and finished on a 14-2 run. Rutgers desire to take the air out of the ball and run the clock backfired, and they failed to score a point during the last 2:04, and there will be questions about their strategy down the stretch.

American Conference Player of The Year Quentin Grimes shined, with 22 and nine rebounds to carry the Cougars until they could pull it out of the fire. UH outrebounded Rutgers 39-29, and showed more toughness and execution down the stretch to find the win. A putback tip with a made and-1 free throw from Tramon Mark made it 61-60, giving UH their first lead with 24 seconds left since the 16:25 mark of the first half.

Rutgers peaked at a 90% win probability, but failed to finish the job. Friday was their first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1983, but they failed to find a second.

Houston was a 7.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks, and although they failed to cover, they’ll be excited to move forward and face Buddy Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange in the Sweet 16.