CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) LJ Cryer scored 18 points and No. 6 Houston used a 19-4 run in the first half to take control on the way to a 65-49 victory over Towson on Thursday night to advance in the Charleston Classic.

Cryer is among several new faces for a program that's still finding its rhythm, according to coach Kelvin Sampson.

“It's still so early in the season, I don't think anybody's looking at their teams as finished products,” he said after his team opened 4-0 for a fourth straight season.

Sampson's team lost a pair of NBA first-rounders in Jerace Walker, the No. 8 pick in the draft, and Marcus Sasser, who was taken 25th. He acknowledges that despite his team's strong start, there's a lot more that must be worked on before the season gets serious.

“We're all just searching and trying to figure out how to fix this, how to fix that,” Sampson said.

The Cougars next take on Utah, which beat Wake Forest 77-70 in the opening round. The Houston-Utah winner earns a spot in Sunday's championship final in the eight-team event.

Cryer got Houston off to a strong start as the team turned a tight game early into a runaway. He had a three-point play and a 3-pointer in the surge as the Cougars moved in front 24-7 after J'wan Roberts' three-point play with 9:11 left before halftime.

Towson (2-2) never got closer than the final score the rest of the way.

Emmanuel Sharp added 14 points. He and Cryer each had three of Houston's seven 3-pointers. Roberts finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Cougars, a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, have opened strong this season. They started with three victories by 30 points or more before heading to Charleston, then leading Towson by 25 points midway through the second half.

Towson struggled to find its shot, especially from the outside, where it made just four of 15 attempts from behind the arc.

Christian May had 10 points for the Tigers.


Towson: The Tigers will need to become more accurate if they hope to contend in the Coastal Athletic Association, formerly known as the Colonial Athletic Association. Towson shot just 25% in the first half (5 of 20) to put themselves in a big hole.

Houston: These tournaments are an early chance to give teams a look at what they might face come conference and NCAA postseasons. The Cougars, led by coach Kelvin Sampson, handled the first test well, but figure to have a sterner opponent in either the Pac-12's Utah or the ACC's Wake on Friday.


Sampson will want to see the Cougars clean up their late-game execution. Houston made just one of its last 11 field goal attempts and didn't have a basket for almost the final four minutes. The cold finish allowed Towson to tighten up what had been a comfortable cushion for the Cougars.


Towson faces Wake Forest on Friday night.

Houston takes on Utah earlier Friday.


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