HOUSTON - Junior guard Jonathon Simmons hit the first of two free throw attempts with 0.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 70-69 win against Tulsa inside Hofheinz Pavilion during the Conference USA opener for both teams.
Freshman point guard J.J. Thompson gave the Cougars a 69-67 lead with a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left in the extra period, but Tulsa's Eric McClellan took the inbounds pass and raced down the floor with a bucket to tie the game again at 69-69 just six seconds later.
Following a Cougar timeout, Simmons took the inbounds pass at halfcourt, waited for his moment and drove to the basket before being fouled by Tulsa's Steven Idlet.
The Houston native and Smiley product calmly drained his first attempt to bring the crowd of 3,218 to its feet. Simmons then deliberately missed his second attempt, and the Tulsa heave at the buzzer fell short to give the Cougars the win.
Simmons finished with a team-high 19 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line. He also added a team-high-tying seven rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes. Thompson posted a career-high 15 points, thanks to an 8-of-9 effort from the free throw line.
Ironically, Simmons was in a similar situation at the end of regulation but was unable to hit both attempts, sending the Cougars into the first overtime game of the season.
With just three seconds remaining in regulation and the Cougars trailing 65-64, Simmons took the inbounds pass and drove to the basket before being fouled by Joe Richard with only one tick left on the clock.
He converted the first attempt to tie the game at 65-65, but his second attempt rattled in and out to force the extra period.
In overtime, the Cougars failed to hit a field goal after hitting 51.2 percent from the field during the first 40 minutes. However, Houston converted 5-of-6 attempts from the free throw line and finished the night 26-of-35 from the line.
With the win, the Cougars recorded their fifth straight win overall and their sixth consecutive home win. Houston improved to 9-5 and 1-0 in C-USA games and won its C-USA opener for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Tulsa dropped to 7-8 overall and 0-1 in C-USA play.
Freshman forward TaShawn Thomas posted 12 points with five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while sophomore forward Alandise Harris - hampered early in the game with foul trouble - finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
Although he didn't score, senior guard Darian Thibodeaux was a defensive leader for the Cougars, limiting Tulsa's Scottie Haralson to two points, both from the free throw line, on 0-of-5 shooting.
The Cougars used steady defense throughout the game and did not allow a Tulsa 3-pointer in five attempts. It was the first time since facing California on Dec. 9, 1997 - a streak of 418 games - that the Cougars did not allow a trey against an NCAA Division I opponent.
However, it was the second straight season that Houston accomplished that feat after holding NAIA power Rogers State without a 3-pointer on Dec. 30, 2010.
Idlet posted 22 points with five rebounds and four assists to lead Tulsa. McClelland added 14 points, while Jordan Clarkson and Magley totaled 12 points apiece.
The Cougars hit the road to travel to the ends of Conference USA for their next two contests. The Cougars play UTEP at 8 p.m. (CST)/7 p.m. (MST) inside the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
From there, the team will travel east to meet UCF at 6 p.m. (CST)/7 p.m. (EST) inside the UCF Arena in Orlando.
The Cougars don't return to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion until 8 p.m., Jan. 14 when they play host to Memphis. That game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
Fans can hear all Cougar Basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tipoff.
Fans can follow live scoring by clicking the "GameTracker" link at UHCougars.com.
Fans also can watch live video and hear live audio via Cougar All-Access at UHCougars.com. Fans should note that a charge is required to watch and hear streamed games on-line.
Single-game tickets are now on sale at the Houston Athletics Ticket Office. In addition, fans also can purchase the Conference USA Pack, which includes eight exciting league games.
In the C-USA Pack, fans can buy Reserved seating to all Saturday men's home games for $99 with General Admission tickets available for only $75.
With the purchase of the Family Fun Plan, fans receive 2 adult and 2 youth general admission tickets to all Saturday C-USA games for only $159. Tickets for additional children are available for only $40 each in this Plan.
Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting UHCougars.com and clicking the Tickets tab and following the appropriate links or by clicking the Tickets link here.