|3-Point Field Goals||6-12||3-14|
|Kirk Van Slyke||17||3||0|
HOUSTON - Senior guard Zamal Nixon and sophomore forward Kirk Van Slyke each posted a game-high 17 points to lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to an impressive 76-71 win against No. 19/18 UCF on Saturday afternoon inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Hitting each of their first five shots, the Cougars raced out to a 24-8 lead midway through the first half and never trailed in the game on the way to their first home win against a nationally ranked team since December 2005.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 9-6 overall and 1-1 in Conference USA games. UCF fell to 14-1 overall, 1-1 in league games.
Houston connected on 48.3 percent (14-of-29) from the field and limited the Knights to only 22.7 percent (5-of-22) in the opening 20 minutes. With a 36-21 halftime lead, the Cougars held UCF to a season low by any opponent this season.
The Knights did not go away quietly and used a 10-0 run early in the second half to turn a 15-point cushion into a precarious 5-point lead for the Cougars with 14:06 remaining in the game.
However, each time the Knights made the game interesting, a Cougar player answered with a big play. When the Knights moved to within 42-37 with 14:06 left, freshman forward Alandise Harris was fouled and drained both free throws to stop the rally. Harris ended the day 9-for-10 from the charity stripe.
After another UCF basket just one minute later pulled the Knights to within 44-39, senior forward Maurice McNeil converted a lay-up while being fouled and hit his free throw attempt.
Midway through the final period, two Keith Clanton free throws put the score at 51-46, but Harris drained another pair of free throws to stop that rally.
The Knights drew closest with 28 seconds remaining when Tom Herzog hit a layup for a 70-66 Houston lead. After receiving the inbounds pass, senior guard Adam Brown was immediately fouled and made both free throws for a 6-point Cougar advantage.
UCF continued to threaten and pulled to within a trey when guard A.J. Rompza hit an off-balance 3-pointer for a 74-71 Cougar lead with just 11 seconds to go. But again, Brown was fouled on the inbounds pass and connected on both free throws for the final margin of victory.
Nixon connected on 8-of-15 field goal attempts and added five rebounds with three assists and a pair of steals. Hampered by foul trouble throughout the game, Van Slyke scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers, with three rebounds in only 16 minutes on the court.
McNeil finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three blocks, while Harris added 14 points with a team-high six rebounds.
Keith Clanton led UCF with 13 points, 11 of those coming from the free throw line. Herzog also added 13 points, while Rompza and guard Marcus Jordan finished with 10 points apiece.
The Cougars take a week long break from their schedule before returning to action at Conference USA-rival SMU at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
That game can be seen live on The Texas Channel on Time Warner Cable (ch. 185 in Dallas-Fort Worth) with Pete Stein calling the play-by-play action and Dave Michaels serving as analyst. Fans should check their local listings for broadcasts in their areas.
The Cougars return home to play host to league-rival Tulsa at 6 p.m., Jan. 19 at Hofheinz Pavilion. That game will be televised live on CBS College Sports.
Fans can hear all Cougar men's basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes serving as analyst.
Cougar men's basketball tickets are available now. Fans can choose from a variety of different ticket packages that best suit their needs, including the Weekend Package (8 Saturday home games) and the Conference USA Package (8 C-USA home games).
Fans have several options when ordering their men's basketball tickets. They can visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center by the UH Fan Shop, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Fans also can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or click the Tickets tab at UHCougars.com to buy tickets today.
* With six 3-pointers, the Cougars recorded their 289th consecutive game with at least one trey.
* The Cougars improved to 8-1 (.889) in home games this season.