March Madness, meet Houston guard Rob Gray.
Gray scored 23 of Houston’s 28 second-half points, finished with a career-high 39 and led the Cougars to a thrilling 67-65 victory over San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament opening round Thursday.
Gray capped his remarkable performance with an agile game-winning layup with only a second to play. With everyone in the building, including the Aztecs’ defense, preparing for him to take the final shot, the guard beat his man on a crossover, then ducked between two defenders for a nifty bucket.
Even before Gray’s go-ahead score (and the near-miracle shot that San Diego State bricked on the ensuing possession), this game’s final 70 seconds were absolutely bonkers. First, San Diego State’s Devin Watson drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score at 62. Then Gray followed up with a 3 of his own to restore Houston’s lead. Watson then responded with yet another long-range bomb to knot the game once again, leading to Gray’s winner.
Here are the final two of that dramatic series of trifectas:
In the end, Gray finished with 39 points on 12-of-25 shooting (4-of-6 from long range) and added eight rebounds. He scored more than half of Houston’s points and was the only Cougars player to even crack double figures. Even for a guy who entered Thursday averaging 18.2 points per game, that is one hell of a showing.
Houston now moves on to face the winner of Michigan and Montana, and Gray will have quite a performance to live up to.