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

On Sunday, Houston appears to have a win over Texas A&M in the regulation bag.

Instead, the top-seeded Cougars found themselves battling down a stretch that threatened their lives in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 9 seed 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 leads by a large margin and holds on to win

Houston led 82-71 with one minute and 48 seconds left. But the Aggies rallied and cut the deficit to 86-83 with 45 seconds left. They then had two looks at tying 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds of the game. Wade Taylor IV missed both.

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

Houston looked in poor shape heading into overtime. Watch as starters Ja'Vier Francis and LJ Cryer are benched after a foul in regulation. Jamal Shedd and Emmanuel Sharpe joined them on the bench after committing a foul in the extra session. But before he fouled out, Shedd scored five points in overtime and assisted on a sharp 3-pointer that started the scoring in the extra session.

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Walking on ice game for seniors after an error at the start

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

The absence of four starters who fouled out forced little-used senior Ryan Elvin to the free-throw line with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Elvin, who has averaged 0.9 points in 2.9 minutes per game this season, found himself at the line for two free throws with Houston leading 98-95. A free throw would push Houston's lead to two possessions with 17 seconds left. He missed the first one. He then scored the second to raise his career free throw tally to 8 for 11. He also iced the game for the Cougars.

When the final buzzer sounded after a furious final few minutes, it was a relief for the top-seeded Cougars. For Texas A&M University, it meant great sadness.

The emotions were palpable in the Houston tunnel after the game.

The Aggies challenge Houston's vaunted defense

The result was a penalty shootout for Houston, which is used to shut down opponents. Houston entered Sunday's game allowing opponents an NCAA-leading 57 points per game and a 37.8% field goal percentage. And got first place in Adjusted KenPom defensive efficiency This season, they have held 10 opponents to fewer than 50 points on their way to the top seed.

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Texas A&M overcame all of those measures on Sunday and kept the pressure on Houston until the final buzzer. Ultimately, it wasn't enough.

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

Sharp scored a game-high 30 points while shooting 7-of-14 from the field. Cryer added 20 points, four assists and three rebounds. Everyone watched the tense final seconds from the bench after the foul.

Senior guard Tyrese Radford led the Aggies with 27 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Taylor scored 21 points while struggling hard from the floor. The Aggies' leading scorer this season (19 points per game), he shot 5 of 26 from the field and 3 of 13 from 3-point range.

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

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