March 6, 2013
HOUSTON - Competing in his final regular-season home game inside Hofheinz Pavilion, University of Houston senior forward Leon Gibson scored 18 points with a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the Cougars to a resounding 84-62 win against Rice on Wednesday evening.
Gibson connected on 5-of-8 shots from the field and drained a career-best eight free throws in as many attempts to post his second double-double of the season and the third of his career. The Cougars' lone senior in 2012-13, the Los Angeles native also added an assist in 20 minutes of action.
"I was really happy for Leon. He played really well," head coach James Dickey said. "You're always happy to see a senior go out like that."
With the win, the Cougars improved to 17-11 overall and 6-9 in Conference USA games. The Cougars also split the season series against the Owls after falling 79-69 in Tudor Fieldhouse on Jan. 30. Rice dropped to 5-23 overall and 1-13 in league play.
Leading 22-16 with 7:54 left in the first half, the Cougars broke open a close game with a 16-7 run during the next six minutes and eventually held a 40-27 lead at the break.
Houston erupted out of the locker room on an 8-2 run and grabbed a 48-29 advantage when Gibson buried a pair of free throws with 17:14 left in the game. Gibson spearheaded the Cougar rally with six of his 18 points during that stretch.
Rice refused to give in and continued to chip away at the lead. The Owls moved to within 64-54 when guard Tamir Jackson drained a jumper with 7:09 remaining. However, the Cougars closed out the game on a 20-8 run from that point to win for the 59th time in the all-time series against the Owls.
Sophomore guard Joseph Young led the Cougars with 20 points and added six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas finished with 16 points and fell just two rebounds shy of posting his team-leading 13th double-double of the season.
Jackson led all players with 25 points but had to put up 24 shots to reach that total and added a game-high seven rebounds. Austin Ramljak posted 14 points with four 3-pointers, while Julian DeBose totaled 11 points in the loss.
Young posted his team-leading 12th 20-point game this season and the 15th of his career... The Houston native and Yates High product also enjoyed his fifth consecutive 20-point effort.
Junior guard Tione Womack finished with two points and only one turnover... Baltimore native has totaled 30 assists with only five turnovers in seven starts this season.
Thomas started his 58th consecutive game, every game of his collegiate career.
Following Wednesday's game, the Cougars close out their regular season when they meet Tulane at 7 p.m., Saturday, inside Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans. The Green Wave claimed an 88-85 win on Feb. 9 inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Fans can listen to the Tulane game live on NewsRadio 740 AM KTRH with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Houston legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show will begin at 6:45 p.m., Saturday.
From there, the team will head to Tulsa to compete at the Conference USA Championship on March 13-16. Houston's First-Round opponent, date and time will be determined with the completion of the regular season. Fans should stay tuned to UHCougars.com and Houston's social media outlets for the latest information.