Men's Basketball Rallies to Upset No. 12 SMU

Feb. 01, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston trailed by 11 points early in the second half and appeared headed for its second loss to No. 12 SMU this season.

That was when they started to fight back.

Devonta Pollard scored 23 points and Damyean Dotson added 13 as Houston rallied for a 71-68 victory over SMU on Monday night, just the second loss of the season for the Mustangs.

Pollard and Dotson keyed a 21-4 run midway through the second half for the Cougars (16-6, 6-4 American), which defeated a ranked team for the first time since beating No. 25 SMU in March 2014. The win was the first over a team ranked this high or higher since beating No. 3 Memphis in January 1996.

"There were a lot of turning points in the game," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. "When we got down 11, it was our fight. That is a part of our identity. Our kids stay together. They don't back down."

Both teams pointed to Houston's 41-27 rebounding advantage as one of the keys to the Cougars' win.

"We focused on defense and rebounding," Pollard said. "Everything else took care of itself."

Nic Moore had 16 points for SMU (19-2, 8-2), which has lost two of its last three after being the last unbeaten team in Division I. Ben Moore scored 12 points and Markus Kennedy had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Mustangs, who shot 8 of 27 in the second half and finished shooting 40 percent overall.

Houston shot 55 percent in the second half and 46 percent for the game.

"I think we have had slippage in a lot of areas," SMU coach Larry Brown said. "In some ways I think we are worrying about things that really aren't that important. . We won by doing a great job on the boards, and we haven't done that recently. I have seen it, but I also understood that every game will be a lot tougher based on how we started the season."

After Houston pushed its lead to eight points, Nic Moore scored five straight points and Ben Moore cut the lead to 66-65 with two free throws with 2 minutes left. Following a free throw by Galen Robinson, Jr., Nic Moore and Dotson traded missed shots, and Kennedy was called for an offensive foul with 59 seconds left.

Pollard made two free throws with 46 seconds left to push the lead to 69-65, and Nic Moore's 3-pointer was blocked by Robinson. Bertrand Nkali made a free throw with 26 seconds left, but Nic Moore hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to cut the lead to two.

Wes VanBeck hit one free throw with 14 seconds left, and Jordan Tolbert's 3-point attempt missed and Shake Milton could not get a 3-point attempt off in time.

"We didn't play like ourselves," Tolbert said. "We got out of what we normally do. We stayed in the game down the stretch. The last four or five possessions we didn't get the look we were trying to get."

Trailing 49-38 with just under 16 minutes remaining, Houston responded with the 21-4 run over the next 8 minutes led by nine points from Pollard and seven from Dotson. LeRon Barnes and Pollard capped the run with consecutive 3-pointers to give the Cougars their largest lead of the game, 59-53. The Mustangs went 1 of 11 from the field during the run and went 6:07 without scoring.

SMU opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to open up a 47-36 lead on a 3-pointer by Milton with 17:26 remaining.

Milton added 10 points and Jarrey Foster had nine. SMU shot 13 of 25 from the field in the first half. The Mustangs hit on 20 of 23 from the free throw line.

Tolbert on SMU's missing effort: "To me, teams are more excited to play us than we are to play them. We have to get back (being) hungry. A lot of people are gunning for us now."

Houston honored its football team at halftime. The Cougars went 13-1, won the American Conference and defeated Florida State in the Peach Bowl. Coach Tom Herman addressed the crowd along with Houston mayor Sylvester Turner. Rob Gray, Jr., Houston's leading scorer with a 17.3 average, missed the game with an ankle injury.

Gray, a sophomore guard, earned the American player of the week award and Robinson, a freshman guard, earned the conference's rookie of the week honor. Gray averaged 23.5 points in wins over Tulsa and East Carolina, while Robinson scored a career-high 19 points against Tulsa before adding 12 points and seven assists against ECU.

Following Monday's game, the Cougars close out the regular-season series against Tulsa when it faces the Golden Hurricane at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 7, inside Reynolds Center.

From there, Houston returns to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion to play host to Memphis at 6 p.m., Feb. 10.

For the Memphis game, five UH students have the chance to win $10,000 at halftime. Other giveaways include a $25 Starbucks gift card as well as $50, $100 and $200 Visa cards.

Students must arrive early to the Memphis game on Feb. 10 to register for a chance to win. Students may sign up at the Fan Experience table on the concourse at the top of the student section.

Fans have a variety of ticket options to accommodate any budget. Season tickets, group tickets, single-game tickets and 3-Point Packs are on sale now. To purchase tickets or for complete information, fans can visit uhcougars.com/tickets and follow the appropriate links or click here.

Fans also can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office from 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. To purchase tickets in person, fans can visit the Athletics Ticket Office located on the northeast corner of TDECU Stadium, just outside of Gate 1 off Cullen Boulevard. Parking is available in the TDECU Stadium parking garage with the first 30 minutes free of charge.

Single-game tickets for Houston Men's Basketball's 2015-16 season begin at only $5 per game. Fans can purchase General Admission single-game tickets for only $5, while Reserved 2 seating is available for only $10 per game. Fans may buy Reserved 1 single-game tickets for $15 per ticket.

Fans can purchase single-game tickets by clicking here.

Fans can purchase three tickets to Houston home games in the 3-Point Pack. Reserved 1 seating for the 3-Point Pack can be purchased for $40 with Reserved seating available for only $30.

Fans can purchase the 3-Point Pack by clicking here.

Tickets for groups of 10-24 or more can be purchased for as low as $12 per ticket in Reserved 2 for 18 regular-season home games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Groups of more than 25 people can buy Reserved 2 tickets for only $10 per ticket

Groups of 10-24 can buy tickets for only $10 per ticket in Reserved 2 with prices plummeting to only $6 per ticket for groups of 25 or more.

Administrators can find more information about group tickets seating and pricing by clicking here.

Fans can receive the latest news and notes by following @UHCougarMBK on Twitter. Fans also can discuss the latest Houston Men's Basketball news and notes on the team's Facebook page by clicking LIKE at HoustonCougarMensHoops.



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