HOUSTON - Senior guard Zamal Nixon recorded 14 points, including a 12-for-12 performance from the free throw line, to lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 64-57 win against Conference USA-rival Tulsa on Wednesday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
In a game that featured lengthy scoring runs by both teams in each half, the Cougars used a 6-0 run to break open a close game at the end and earned their third straight C-USA victory.
Tulsa held a 55-53 lead with just under six minutes remaining when Bryson Pope hit a free throw. The Cougars scored the game's next five points and took the lead for good when freshman forward Alandise Harris buried a pair of free throw attempts with 3:59 remaining.
After a bucket by sophomore forward Kendrick Washington gave the Cougars a 3-point cushion, Tulsa moved to within 58-57 when Steven Idlet dunked the ball with 1:42 left in the game. The Cougars worked the shot clock down on the ensuing possession and got a break when the rebound went out of bounds off a Tulsa player.
Working another 35 seconds down, senior guard Adam Brown brought most of the crowd of 3,617 to its feet with a driving bank shot with only three seconds left on the shot clock.
Harris then drew a charge off Tulsa's Justin Hurtt on the next possession, forcing the Golden Hurricane to foul. Nixon was fouled twice in the final 16 seconds and connected on all four attempts for the final margin of victory.
Nixon led the Cougars with 14 points and added four rebounds and four assists with only one turnover. Brown and junior guard Darian Thibodeaux added 11 points each with the latter connecting on three 3-pointers. Harris finished with 10 points and tied with sophomore forward Kirk Van Slyke for the team lead with six rebounds.
Hurtt led all players with 20 points, including three 3-pointers, while Idlet added 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with a game-high 12 rebounds. Pope added 13 points in the loss.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 11-6 overall and 3-1 in Conference USA games. Tulsa fell to 9-9 overall, 2-2 in league games.
Tulsa jumped out to an 8-0 lead quickly, but the Cougars settled down and used a bigger run of their own later in the first half. Trailing 20-8, the Cougars erupted on a 20-3 run during a 9-minute span and claimed a 28-23 advantage when Thibodeaux converted a layup.
However, the Golden Hurricane used a 7-1 run of its own to close out the first half and took a 30-29 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Golden Hurricane continued that scoring to open the second half and held a 34-31 lead before Houston took off on an 11-0 run for a 42-34 advantage. However, Tulsa answered with a 9-0 run of its own to claim a 43-42 lead.
The Cougars continue their brief homestand when they meet Conference USA-rival UTEP at 7 p.m., Saturday, inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
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 Houston Hoops 4-Pack (UAB games) and the Pick 4 Pack (fans' choice of any four remaining home games).
Fans also can join the "H" Association barbecue on Feb. 12 and receive one reserved seat ticket to the Cougars' C-USA showdown against Tulane for only $20.
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.
This is the fourth straight season the Cougars have started a season 3-1 or better... The Cougars committed a season-low six turnovers, topping their previous low of eight giveaways against Northwestern Oklahoma State (Nov. 20) and UTSA (Dec. 11)... Sophomore forward Kendrick Washington returned to the Cougar lineup after sitting out the last four games... Washington had a staph infection in his left elbow... With three blocked shots, sophomore forward Kirk Van Slyke set a career high... His total topped his previous best of two blocks, done five times and most recently against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 23.