HOUSTON - University of Houston junior guard Jonathon Simmons led the Cougars with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of his career, but it would not be quite enough as Rice took a 79-71 win on Wednesday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
The two teams went back and forth in the second half before the Cougars took a 64-63 lead on redshirt freshman guard Joseph Young's jumper with 5:59 remaining. Unfortunately, that would be the last time the Cougars would lead in the contest.
Switching to a 2-3 zone, Rice scored the game's next nine points during the ensuing three-and-a-half minutes. Center Omar Oraby came off the bench to score all seven of his points during that stretch to give the Owls a 72-64 lead with 2:35 left.
The Cougars would be unable to move closer than six points the rest of the way.
With the loss, Houston dropped to 11-12 overall and 3-7 in C-USA games. Rice improved to 14-11 overall and 5-5 in C-USA games.
Simmons, the team's leading scorer and ranked ninth in the latest C-USA statistics standings, connected on 6-of-10 shots from the field and added two assists in the loss. The Houston native's rebounding total topped his previous best of nine, done in two games against Texas State in December.
Sophomore forward Alandise Harris added 13 points and fell just a rebound shy of posting his own double-double, while Young finished with 13 points, thanks to three treys.
Rice forward Jarelle Reischel led the Owls with 16 points, while Tamir Jackson and Connor Frizzelle posted 13 points apiece. Guard Dylan Ennis added 10 points and six assists with forward Arsalan Kazemi's six rebounds leading the team.
The Cougars meet Conference USA-rival Tulsa at 7 p.m., Saturday, inside the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.
From there, the team will take a week-long break from their schedule before playing host to Southern Miss at 8 p.m., Feb. 18, in Hofheinz Pavilion. That game will be televised live on CSS.
Fans can hear all Cougar Basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tipoff.
Fans can follow live scoring by clicking the "GameTracker" link at UHCougars.com.
Fans also can hear live audio and watch live video via Cougar All-Access at UHCougars.com. Fans should note that a charge is required to watch and hear streamed games on-line.
Single-game tickets are now on sale at the Houston Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting UHCougars.com and clicking the Tickets tab and following the appropriate links or by clicking the Tickets link here.