Sasser leads No. 17 Houston easily past Lamar

Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half Wednesday as the 17th-ranked Houston Cougars turned suffocating defense and rebounding into an 89-45 season-opening, nonconference win over visiting Lamar at the Fertitta Center.Sasser finished 9-for-11 from the floor including 7-of-9 on 3-point attempts to pace the Cougars (1-0), who played without American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year Caleb Mills (ankle).Sophomore guard Anderson Kopp paced Lamar with 15 points on 8-of-9 free-throw shooting.Houston stifled the Cardinals (0-1) early and didn’t relent, limiting Lamar to two field goals by the midpoint of the first half and overcoming a scoring drought with a late closing kick.The Cougars were sluggish early on the offensive end — missing eight consecutive field goals in one stretch — but Sasser kept them in control by making his first three shots, all from beyond the arc.Still, with six minutes left in the first half, Houston’s lead was just 17-11 when Justin Gorham converted a second-chance basket, and the Cougars got untracked. Sasser added a 3 and a driving layup.Lamar missed its final six field goals prior to the intermission as Houston turned a 9-0 run into a 35-15 halftime lead.The Cardinals made 4 of 20 shots in the half and were outrebounded 29-16. The Cougars turned 13 offensive boards into eight second-chance points.