Jan. 9, 2013
HOUSTON - Freshman forward Danuel House poured in a career-high 28 points to help lead the University of Houston Men's Basketball team to a 78-67 win over SMU in its Conference USA opener inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Sugar Land, Texas, native and Hightower High product connected on 7-of-11 shots from the field and converted a career-high 13-of-17 attempts from the free throw line for his fourth 20-point game during his inaugural collegiate season.
House, who was the Cougars' third-leading scorer entering the game, also added two assists with a blocked shot while playing all but one minute in the game. He topped his previous high of 22 points, set earlier this season against Chicago State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
With the win, Houston won its seventh straight game and improved to 12-2 overall. More importantly, the Cougars moved to 1-0 in league play, winning its C-USA opener for the fifth time in the last six seasons. SMU lost its third straight game and fell to 10-7 overall, 0-2 in C-USA.
The Cougars overcame a sluggish first half that saw them trail 36-32 at the break. The Mustangs took advantage of 61.5 percent shooting in the first half and forced 10 Houston turnovers to put the Cougars in a hole through the first 20 minutes for only the fifth time this season.
Houston used a pair of second-half runs to take the win. Trailing 47-38 on a tip-in from SMU's Jalen Jones, the Cougars scored the game's next nine points to build a 48-47 lead when House drained the second of two free throw attempts for Houston's first lead since the 19:33 mark of the first half.
The two teams battled back and forth from there and eventually found themselves in a 57-57 tie on Jones' dunk with 6:36 left to play. However, the Cougars erupted on a 12-3 run during the next five minutes to build a 69-60 advantage on another free throw from House.
SMU rallied and moved to within 72-67 on a 3-pointer from Nick Russell with just less than a minute remaining, but that would be as close as the Mustangs would get. Houston closed out the game with six straight points with four of those coming from House.
After falling behind in the first 20 minutes, the Cougars connected on 44.8 percent from the field while limiting SMU to only 30.8 percent. The Cougars also reduced their turnover number to three in the final 20 minutes while forcing seven SMU giveaways.
Sophomore guard Joseph Young finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in 34 minutes for his team-leading sixth 20-point game this season and the ninth of his career. Senior forward Leon Gibson scored eight points with a career-high 14 rebounds. Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas was held to six points but grabbed 12 rebounds with four assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals.
Jones led SMU with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Russell added 14 points, including a pair of treys. Ryan Manuel paced the Mustangs with a game-high-tying four assists.
The 2012-13 Cougars became only the seventh team in school history to start 12-2 or better through their first 14 games... All six of those previous teams competed in the NCAA Tournament.
Houston improved to 9-1 this season in the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion.
Houston won its Conference USA opener for the fifth time in the last six seasons... Only an 85-73 loss at Southern Miss on Jan. 8, 2011, prevents a longer winning streak.
The Cougars' seven-game winning streak is the longest since 2007-08... That team won eight consecutive games from Nov. 21, 2007 to Jan. 2, 2008.
With Wednesday's win, the Cougars ended their season-long, six-game homestand with a perfect 6-0 mark.
Freshman forward Danuel House's 13-of-17 performance from the free throw line set career highs in both categories... Topped his 8-of-11 effort against Louisiana College (Nov. 19, 2012)
With 14 rebounds, senior forward Leon Gibson set a career high.. He topped his old mark of 12 boards set against Chicago State (Dec. 22, 2012) earlier this season.
Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas made his 44th consecutive start, every game of his collegiate career.
Single-game tickets for all remaining home games and a variety of ticket packs to suit any budget are on sale now. To purchase tickets, fans can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by online at UHCougars.com.
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Following Wednesday's game, the team hits the road for the first time since Dec. 4 to meet C-USA rival Southern Miss at 2 p.m., Dec. 12 in Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Miss.
From there, the team continues a brief road swing when they square off against East Carolina at 6 p.m. (CST) Wednesday, inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C.