LAS VEGAS - Johnny Davis scored a career-high 30 points and Wisconsin beat No. 12 Houston 65-63 in the Maui Invitational semifinals Tuesday.
The Cougars erased a 20-point halftime deficit and cut Wisconsin’s lead to two on Kyler Edwards' 3-pointer with 40 seconds left. With the final possession, Jamal Shead drove baseline and passed to Edwards, who wasn’t expecting the feed, costing the Cougars a chance at a final attempt.
Davis finished 10 of 18 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and was 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.
Tyler Wahl chipped in with nine points and seven rebounds, while Brad Davison also had nine points for the Badgers (4-1).
Houston (4-1) was led by Edwards, who had 18 points — 15 in the second half via five 3-pointers — while Marcus Sasser added 11.
Sasser had a chance to tie it with 47 seconds left, but his attempt clanked off the rim to Davis, who was fouled immediately and drained two free throws to push Wisconsin’s lead back to five, 65-60.
Davis sparked the Badgers early, scoring 11 of their first 16 points. The savvy sophomore was red hot from long range inside the first six minutes of the game, draining three 3-pointers to spark a 16-4 run.
Houston, which averages 23 points off turnovers, had just two in the first half as it failed to create pressure on the Badgers to disrupt their offense.
Wisconsin’s offense helped their defense by shooting better than 60% early in the game and forcing Houston to take the ball from the net and out on the baseline, rather than moving in transition, something the defensively minded Cougars generally thrive on.
Instead, it was Wisconsin doing a good job in taking away Houston’s main offensive threat by shutting down Sasser, who is averaging 20 points per game. He had three points and four turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have become accustomed to the non-conference November tournament grind, having competed in one in 14 of the last 16 years. With Tuesday’s win, the Badgers are 25-12 (.667) in those games. Wisconsin is now 7-4 all-time in the Maui Invitational
Houston: Tramon Mark, who was expected to be a starter this season, has contributed nicely in his first two games back after recovering from a left shoulder injury. He continued to provide a spark off the bench for the Cougars. After averaging 7.8 points per game last season, the sophomore guard is averaging 6.5 after the first two games of the Maui Invitational.
Wisconsin: Faces either Oregon or Saint Mary’s on the final day of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.
Houston: Faces either Oregon or Saint Mary’s on the final day of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.