Men's Hoops Takes Down UAB, 66-61
HOUSTON - Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas led all players with 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the University of Houston Men's Basketball program to a 66-61 win against UAB on Saturday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Thomas was one of three Cougars to score in double digits and dished out four assists with a block and steal against the Blazers. Sophomore guard Joseph Young finished with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers came off the bench to pour in 11 points with a game-high three treys.
With the win, the Cougars snapped a season-long four-game losing streak and moved to 13-6 overall and 2-4 in Conference USA action. UAB dropped its fifth straight C-USA game to stand at 8-12 overall and 0-5 in league play.
The Cougars appeared the have the game well in hand early in the second half when a jumper from Young handed Houston a 41-28 lead with 16:36 remaining. However, the Blazers erupted on an 18-2 run during the next five-and-a-half minutes and grabbed a 46-43 lead when Terence Jones drained a 3-pointer.
The game went back and forth from there with neither team scoring more than four unanswered points and eventually came to a 52-52 tie. Houston freshman forward Danuel House gave the Cougars a 54-52 lead, but UAB's Jordan Swing answered just 30 seconds later with a 3-pointer for a 55-54 Blazer lead with 4:28 left.
Fortunately, that was the last time the Blazers would hold the lead as the Cougars scored the game's next seven points. After a layup from senior forward Leon Gibson gave Houston the lead for good, the Cougars rebounded a UAB miss and built a 59-55 lead when Stiggers buried a 3-pointer.
Following another UAB miss and Houston rebound, sophomore point guard J.J. Thompson was fouled and calmly drained both free throws for a 61-55 lead with 2:26 remaining.
The Blazers moved back to within 61-58 after a pair of Jones free throws and threatened to move closer before a pair of clutch plays from Gibson. After a missed jumper on the ensuing possession, the Los Angeles native snared the offensive rebound, allowing the Cougars to reset their offense and take precious time off the game clock.
Although the Cougars failed to score on that possession, Gibson made the play of the night on the defensive end. With less than 40 ticks left on the clock, he swatted a driving layup from Jones into the hands of Thompson to thwart that drive.
Fouled on the play, Thomas converted 1-of-2 free throws for a 62-58 Houston lead with just 27 seconds to go. With only three team fouls to that point in the game, head coach James Dickey elected to foul the Blazers on their next two possession, forcing UAB to throw the ball in and take time off the clock with each possession.
UAB's Jordan Swing nailed a 3-pointer to move the Blazers to within 62-61 with 11.1 seconds remaining, but Young was fouled on the inbounds pass. The Houston native and Yates High product, who had hit 24 of his previous 25 free throw attempts and ranked third nationally in free throw percentage, buried both attempts for a 64-61 Houston lead.
On the ensuing possession, Jones attempted to draw a foul on a 3-point attempt near midcourt. However, Thompson recognized what the Blazer guard was trying and simply backed off the player as Jones tossed up a halfcourt heave that fell far short.
The Cougars inbounded the ball and, after being fouled, freshman forward Danuel House, sank both attempts for the final margin of victory.
Swing came off the bench to lead UAB with 20 points, including three 3-pointers. Jones was the only other Blazer to reach double digits with 14 points, including three treys. Rod Rucker and Fahro Alihodzic each posted eight points and a team-high seven rebounds in the loss.
With the win, the Cougars moved to 10-3 at Hofheinz Pavilion in 2012-13... Marked the ninth straight season Houston has enjoyed double-digit home wins... First time to accomplish that feat since the facility opened with nine straight 10-win seasons from 1969 to 1978.
Houston moved to 6-18 all-time in the series against UAB... Cougars improved to 5-7 all-time inside Hofheinz Pavilion against the Blazers... Was the team's third home win in their last four outings against UAB.
With three treys, redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers moved into third place in Houston freshman single-season history... Moved past Treva Crosby (29 in 1997-98)... Now trails only Damon Jones (55 in 1994-95) and current teammate Joseph Young (55 in 2011-12).
Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas started his 49th consecutive game, every game of his collegiate career.
Following Saturday's game, the Cougars compete in a pair of road games but only need to leave the city once. Houston meets crosstown- and Conference USA-rival Rice at 7 p.m., Wednesday, inside Tudor Fieldhouse on the Rice campus.
From there, the team meets SMU at 2 p.m., Feb. 2, inside Moody Coliseum in Dallas. The Cougars enjoyed a 78-67 win earlier this month in Hofheinz Pavilion in the Conference USA opener for both teams. That game will be shown live on Time Warner Texas.
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