HOUSTON - Junior guard LeRon Barnes scored 14 points with a game-high 10 rebounds, and junior guard Jherrod Stiggers added a team-high 17 points, but it would not be enough as the University of Houston Men's Basketball team dropped a 75-69 decision to No. 25/25 SMU on Thursday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Although SMU built as much as a 17-point lead midway through the second half, the Cougars rallied late and moved to within 68-64 on a dunk from junior forward Devonta Pollard with 3:52 remaining. Unfortunately, the Mustangs had an answer each time the Cougars tried to move closer.
With Houston trailing 68-64, the Mustangs scored the next three points on free throws from Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy. After a Stiggers 3-pointer closed the game back to 71-67, Moore hit a short jumper with the shot clock winding down to extend the Mustang lead with just 35 seconds remaining.
SMU connected on nearly 54 percent from the field in the game, including 57.7 percent in the second half alone. The Mustangs also turned 13 Houston turnovers into 15 points while committing only six giveaways.
After fighting through illness in the Cougars' last game, Barnes buried 6-of-12 attempts from the field and snared 10 boards for his second double-double of the season and his career.
Stiggers fought through a tough first half to score 14 second-half points and led the Cougars with 17 points behind five 3-pointers. Coming off the bench, Pollard added 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds.
Kennedy paced the Mustangs with 17 points, thanks to a 7-of-7 effort from the free throw line, while Moore added 15 points with a pair of treys. Ryan Manuel finished with 10 points, three rebounds and four assists, and Sterling Brown led all players with seven assists.
SMU: Coach Larry Brown attended the Dean Smith memorial in North Carolina earlier in the day before flying to Houston for the game. ... The Mustangs shot 13 of 24 from the free-throw line. ... The Mustangs outscored Houston 42-22 in points in the paint.
Houston: At halftime, Houston honored the Armed Forces Bowl championship football team that defeated Pittsburgh 35-34. New head football coach Tom Herman addressed the crowd. ... The Cougars turned the ball over 13 times that led to a 15-2 SMU edge in points off turnovers.
Following Thursday's game, the Cougars hit the road for a pair of games in Florida. The road swing starts at 1 p.m. (CST) Sunday against UCF inside CFE Arena and continues at 6 p.m. (CST), Tuesday, against USF inside Sun Dome.
Fans can hear Sunday's game live on KPRC 950 AM with Matt Thomas calling the action. The pregame show begins at 12:45 p.m. (CST), Sunday.
Fans also can hear the radio broadcast online by visiting UHCougars.com and following the appropriate links to Houston All-Access or by clicking here. A Houston All-Access subscription is required to listen to the game online.
Fans can watch Sunday's game live on ESPN3 with Drew Fellios calling the play-by-play action and Mark Wise providing analysis. Fans also can watch the game online by visiting WatchESPN.com and following the appropriate links or by clicking here.
Fans can follow live stats by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com or by clicking here.
BUY TICKETS NOW
Fans have a variety of tickets options to accommodate any budget. Group tickets, mini-plans and single-game tickets also are on sale now. For complete tickets information, fans can visit uhcougars.com/mbbtickets and follow the appropriate links or by clicking here.
To purchase tickets, fans 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.
All UH main campus students are admitted FREE to regular-season Men's Basketball home games with a valid student ID.
Fans also have a choice of a pair of mini plans when choosing their ticket options. With the Conference Pack, fans can purchase tickets to each of the Cougars' nine American Athletic Conference home games inside Hofheinz Pavilion, starting at only $8 per game in the Reserved 3 section.
Fans can choose the 3-Point Pack and pick any three of the Cougars' 17 regular-season home games with prices starting as low as $9 per game in the Reserved 3 section.
Tickets for groups of 10 or more can be purchased for as low as $9 per ticket in Reserved 3 (Section 101-102, 115-116, 126-128) for 17 regular-season home games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Groups of 10 or more can buy tickets for only $14 per ticket in the Reserved 2 (Sections 103-104, 109-111, 117-119 and 124-125), while Reserved 3 seats (Section 105-108, 120-123) are available at $19 per ticket.
The ticket cost per person falls even more for groups of 25 or more. Group administrators are encouraged to call or visit the Athletics Ticket Office soon to secure their seats.
For a map of Hofheinz Pavilion group seating sections and prices, fans can click here. Fans can purchase group tickets online by visiting UHCougars.com and following the appropriate links or by clicking here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Single-game tickets can be purchased for as low as $10 per game in the Reserved 3 section inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans can buy single-tickets in Reserved 2 for only $15 with tickets in Reserved 1 going for $20 per game.
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.