Villanova grinds out tough win vs. Houston to reach Final Four (0:25)

After a hard fought win against Houston, the team advanced to the Final Four. It was 1:45.

8:27 PM ET

In the past six NCAA tournaments, the team has a chance to win its third national championship.

In a game that was close until the final minutes, the 2-seed Villanova got out to an early lead and never looked back in a 50-44 win over the 5-seed Houston Cougars.

The first team to win an Elite Eight game while shooting under 30% from the floor was UCLA in 1971 The 50 points were tied for the lowest ever in an Elite Eight win.

Samuels and Daniels both came off the bench to score 12 points. Taze Moore was the top scorer for Houston with 15 points and 10 rebound.

The first punch was landed against every team that Houston had played in the NCAA tournament. After 10 minutes, they were up 31-14 on Alabama, 16-9 on Illinois and 19-12 on Arizona.

When asked on Friday afternoon how he planned to prepare his team for Houston's intensity and physical play, Jay Wright expected more of the same.

Wright said that they would take a little smack in the mouth.

There was no need for an adjustment.

The first five points were scored by the Wildcats and they were leading 16-8 after 10 minutes. They never trailed.

Houston has built a reputation for taking teams out of their comfort zone on the offensive end, but that is exactly what happened to the team in the first half. The ball-screens and dribble hand-offs were constantly switched by the Cats. The defense was forced to start further out and the jumpers were not falling like they had in the first three games of the NCAA tournament.

They took five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the game. Houston likes to win on the offensive glass and in transition, but early on, it wasn't possible for Villanova to let them do that. One of the best offensive rebound teams in the country is the Cougars and they excel at forcing turnovers and getting points in transition.

Houston had just one offensive rebound and two turnovers through the first 17 minutes. Houston was forced to work for everything and then made to guard for 30 seconds at the other end.

Houston was out of it's depth.

Houston needed a run to start the game. One of the best teams in the country at scoring runs is the Cougars. It's worse for them that Villanova is better at preventing them.

According to, a website that tracks advanced college basketball statistics, the best team in the country at preventing sustained runs is the team from the power conference. The website has a stat called "kill shots", which is a 10-0 run. The team has allowed six kill shots all season.

The biggest run Houston managed all game was a six-run spurt that cut the lead to two. For a team that had the third-most 10-0 runs in the country, it was a problem.

Houston looked like it was gaining some traction in front of the crowd.

Daniels hit a pair of big shots in the first half as Houston finally found a rhythm. After drawing a foul well outside the 3-point line and hitting two free throws late in the first half, he didn't play well for much of the game.

Daniels started the second half with a big shot, a 3 with 18:44 left. After Houston cut the lead to five early in the second half, Samuels drove to the lane, faked two defenders and then finished the basket.

Houston scored five second-chance points in the first four minutes of the second half and grabbed three offensive boards. They were having success around the basket and getting stops defensively, but their outside shots wouldn't fall. They went 9-for-20 against Arizona on Thursday night, but shot just 1-for-20 against Villanova.

When Houston finally went on a run, it was the best player in the game that came up with the big shot. Houston didn't score a point for the next four minutes after Gillespie buried a jumper over Wan Roberts.

A short Shead jumper in the lane cut the lead to four with 1:45 remaining, but the team responded immediately with a Samuels layup. Houston was not done yet. Roberts forced a jump-ball after Moore slipped, after Kyler Edwards hit a pair of free throws. Moore had a layup on the next possession.

A pair of Gillespie free throws pushed the lead to six, and Houston wouldn't get any closer.