HOUSTON - After a week-long break from its schedule, the University of Houston men's basketball team found itself down early but quickly rallied to take an impressive 79-68 win against Conference USA rival Tulane on Saturday afternoon inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Things did not start out well for the Cougars as Tulane scored the game's first eight points. However, Houston used a 15-3 run during the next five minutes and never looked back in taking the win.
After Tulane moved to within 20-18, the Cougars used a 17-2 rally during a 5:14 stretch to build a 37-20 lead, their largest margin of the game. Tulane closed out the half on an 8-2 run to move to within 41-31 at the break, but the Cougars scored eight of the first nine points to open the second half and were never threatened again.
Despite the slow start, the Cougars used steady shooting throughout the game to win for the fifth time in their last six games against the Green Wave. Houston connected on 54.8 percent (17-of-31) from the field in the opening half and finished at 51.9 percent for the game.
The Cougars also outrebounded the Green Wave 40-30 and converted 16 Tulane giveaways into 30 points.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 12-11 overall, 4-6 in C-USA games, and snapped a season-long five-game losing streak. Tulane fell to 12-12 overall, 2-9 in league games, and lost for the eighth consecutive time.
Senior forward Maurice McNeil scored 15 points with a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the Cougars. It was the New York native's team-leading eighth double-double this season and the 14th of his career.
Senior guard Zamal Nixon scored 17 points, thanks to an 11-of-11 performance from the free throw line, and added game highs of five assists and four steals. Freshman forward Alandise Harris recorded 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and two assists, while senior guard Adam Brown finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Sophomore forward Kendrick Washington returned to the lineup and added 10 points with seven rebounds in 15 minutes of work.
Jordan Callahan led Tulane with 18 points, all from the 3-point line. Kendall Timmons and Johnny Mayhane recorded 15 points apiece, while David Booker added 10 points and a team-high six rebounds.
The Cougars wrap up their homestand when they play host to SMU at 7 p.m., Wednesday, inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Houston enjoyed a 70-68 win against the Mustangs in Moody Coliseum in Dallas on Jan. 15.
From there, the team meets UTEP at 8:05 p.m. (CST), Saturday, inside the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. UTEP escaped with a 57-52 win against the Cougars on Jan. 22 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.
Three regular-season home games remain on the schedule, and Cougar men's basketball tickets are available now.
Fans can purchase the Houston Hoops 4-Pack for the UAB (Feb. 26) game at Hofheinz Pavilion. For only $48, fans can receive 4 general admission tickets, 4 small drinks, 4 hot dogs and 4 hats (selected styles) from the UH Fan Shop.
If more than four tickets are needed, each additional ticket purchased will cost only $12 each and will receive the extra items.
The Houston Hoops 4-Pack will not be available on game days at the Hofheinz Pavilion ticket windows.
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.
* Saturday's attendance of 5,144 was a season high... Topped the previous high of 4,513 against Conference USA-rival UTEP on Jan. 22.
* Cougars' 41 first-half points was their second-highest total in the opening period this season... Trailed only the 42 points scored in the opening 20 minutes against Northwestern Oklahoma State on Nov. 20.