EL PASO, Texas - Senior guard Robert McKiver poured in a game-high 29 points, including five 3-pointers, but it would not be quite enough as the University of Houston men's basketball team dropped an 87-81 decision against Conference USA rival UTEP at the Don Haskins Center.
McKiver finished with his 16th 20-point game of the season.
The Cougars seemed to grab the game's momentum when senior guard Lanny Smith hit a pair of free throws for an 80-76 lead with 2:58 remaining. However, UTEP guard Randy Culpepper pulled the Miners to one at 80-79 with a 3-pointer and, after a Cougar turnover, Marvin Kilgore converted a layup for an 81-80 lead with 1:39 remaining.
Following a missed Cougar shot, Kilgore converted a layup with 41 seconds remaining for an 83-80 UTEP lead.
UH junior DaShaun Williams was fouled with 14 seconds remaining but converted only one of two free throws. UTEP guard Stefon Jackson then converted four free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the win for the Miners.
UTEP guard Stefon Jackson finished with 28 points and nine rebounds to lead the Miners, while Tavaris Watts added 19 points. Randy Culpepper posted 16 points, and Marvin Kilgore added 12 points in the win.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 22-8 overall and finished their C-USA schedule with an 11-5 record. UTEP improved to 17-12 overall and 8-8 in C-USA games.
The Cougars begin the 2008 postseason when they open play at the C-USA Championship at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. UH, which earned a first-round bye as a Top-Four seed, will face the winner of the No. 6 UTEP-No. 11 SMU game at 2:30 p.m., Thursday.
Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Carl Dukes providing color analysis.
Fans always can follow live stats on the Internet by clicking on the Gametracker link at UHCougars.com.