ORLANDO, Fla. -- Houston was determined not to repeat its recent failures in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Cougars used a dominant performance against UCF to erase the sting of two consecutive first-round losses.
Galen Robinson scored 18 points, Rob Gray had 17 points, six assists and five rebounds, and No. 21 Houston beat UCF 84-56 on Friday night.
"We went 0-2 in this game the last two years, and we wanted to make sure that didn't happen again," Gray said. "We wanted to come out and hit them in the mouth first, and not let up for 40 minutes. That's what we tried to do, and now we're on to the next round."
The third-seeded Cougars (25-6) will play 11th-ranked and second-seeded Wichita State (25-6) in Saturday's semifinal round.
Devin Davis had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars, who held a 37-28 edge in rebounds and scored 20 points off the Knights' 11 turnovers. Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. each scored 10 points.
"We remember what happened last year, and the year before," Davis said. "So it was all about preparation coming in. We had intense practices, making sure everyone was locked in for 40 minutes. It made a difference."
The Cougars led almost the entire game, smothering the Knights defensively and outhustling them at the other end. The Knights (19-13) never got closer than eight points in the second half.
The Cougars had a 37-28 rebounding advantage and held a 20-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Houston's 84 points were the most scored against UCF this season.
"Houston's a very good team, and they have so many guys capable of making shots, and they did," UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. "You have to tip your hat to what they were able to do. It's a credit to them for keeping their foot on the gas for 40 minutes."
Davis scored 10 points in the first six minutes and had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting by halftime as Houston went ahead 40-27. Armoni Brooks had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the first 20 minutes.
Houston: The Cougars have won nine of their last 10 games. Houston has held a rebounding edge in all but five games this season and should have an advantage on the boards against smaller Wichita State.
UCF: The Knights are hoping for an NIT bid. They already are looking forward to next season, when guard Chance McSpadden and Aubrey Dawkins, son of coach Johnny Dawkins, are expected to return. Both missed this season with injuries. Also returning will be 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall, who missed half of this season with a shoulder injury.
Houston: Faces Wichita State. The Cougars and the Shockers split their regular-season meetings.
UCF: Awaits word on a possible NIT berth.
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