HOUSTON - University of Houston junior guard Rob Gray posted a team-high 21 points, and senior forward Danrad Knowles recorded his first double-double of the season, but it would not be quite enough as Memphis claimed a 70-67 win in overtime inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Thursday night.
The Cougars (13-6 4-3 American) overcame some early struggles from the field to take a 34-30 lead at halftime and enjoyed a 50-43 lead midway through the second half after Gray nailed a jumper. However, the Tigers scored the next six points to move to within 50-49, and the two teams battled back and forth from there.
Houston held a 62-60 lead when Knowles drained 1-of-2 free throws with just under a minute remaining, but the Tigers cut the deficit to 62-61 when Dedric Lawson hit a free throw with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
After a missed Cougar jumper, the Tigers took a 64-62 lead when Jeremiah Martin converted an and-1 with just 12 seconds to go. Following a Houston timeout, junior guard Wes VanBeck's drive to the basket was blocked, but Knowles grabbed the rebound and made the layup to tie the game with just three seconds left to force overtime.
In the extra period, Dedric Lawson gave the Tigers the lead for good after sinking a pair of free throws with 4:41 left. Houston sophomore point guard Galen Robinson Jr. trimmed the deficit to 66-65 with a free throw with 3:21 to go, but those would be the final points the Cougars could muster until Robinson hit a layup to move the Cougars to within 70-67 with 16 seconds left.
The Cougars had one last chance to the tie game at the end of overtime, but a pair of 3-point attempts was off the mark.
Gray, who was the American Athletic Conference's leading scorer entering the game, enjoyed a 12th 20-point game of the season and the 19th of his career, and added three assists and three steals. Knowles totaled 13 points with a team-high 10 rebounds and two blocked shots, while senior guard Damyean Dotson added 14 points and six boards.
Memphis guard KJ Lawson led all players with 28 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, while Dedric Lason added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Martin totaled 10 points, and Markel Crawford finished with nine points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Following Thursday's game, the Cougars head north on Interstate 45 to take on SMU at 5 p.m., Saturday, inside Moody Coliseum in Dallas... Game will be shown on ESPNU and can be heard on KPRC 950 AM.
From there, Houston returns to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion for three straight home games... Homestand begins at 8 p.m., Tuesday, against Tulane... Game will be shown on CBS Sports Network and can be heard on KPRC 950 AM Homestand continues with games against Temple (9 p.m., Jan. 28) and against UCF (6 p.m., Feb. 1).
Single-game tickets and group ticket packages are available to accommodate all budgets. Fans can visit uhcougars.com/tickets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and follow the appropriate links or call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) to order tickets.
Current University of Houston main campus students are admitted FREE to all Men's Basketball games with valid IDs. Main campus students may purchase student guest tickets to each Men's Basketball game for $5 each, based on availability.
Single game tickets begin at only $12 for American Athletic Conference games.
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