March 9, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - University of Houston sophomore guard Joseph Young scored a career-high 32 points and converted an and-1 with just two seconds remaining to lift the Cougars to a 96-94 win against Conference USA-rival Tulane in the regular-season finale for both teams inside Devlin Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
In an offensive slugfest that went back and forth all night, Young buried the game-winning shot and subsequent free throw to help the Cougars split the regular-season series against the Green Wave.
Tulane's Josh Davis banked in a layup with 46 seconds remaining to knot the game at 93-93. On the ensuing possession, the Cougars worked the clock down, but the Green Wave forced a turnover. Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas was then whistled for a foul - his fifth of the game - sending Tulane's Kendall Timmons to the line.
Celebrating his Senior Night, Timmons missed his first attempt but drained the second try to give Tulane a 94-93 lead with 12 seconds left.
After the Cougars brought the ball down the court, Young took a pass and drove to the basket before being fouled by Davis... but not before his shot attempt banked in for a 95-94 Houston lead with only two seconds left in the contest. Stepping to the line, the Houston native and Yates High product calmly drained his 13th straight attempt from the charity stripe on the night for a 96-94 lead.
Houston then intercepted a deep Tulane inbounds pass to seal the win.
Young enjoyed his sixth straight 20-point game to end the regular season and the first 30-point effort of his career. He became only the 53rd player in school history to score 30+ points in a single game, joining Thomas in that feat this season.
Heralded for his long-range shooting, Young made only one trey in two attempts in the game. However, he finished 13-of-13 from the free throw line and connected on 9-of-16 shots from the field. He also dished out a career-high nine assists with a steal in 37 minutes.
His point total topped his previous best of 27 points against Louisiana-Lafayette (Dec. 15, 2012) and against SMU (Feb. 25, 2012). His assist total also was a career high, besting his previous high of eight against Oakland on Nov. 22, 2011.
In addition to leading the Cougars to the win, Young also reclaimed the lead in the C-USA individual scoring race. Young's offensive output pushed him to 18.54 points per game in 2012-13, just ahead of East Carolina's Maurice Kemp (18.48 ppg).
With the win, Houston won its third straight game and improved to 18-11 overall and 7-9 in Conference USA games. The Cougars tied with UAB for sixth in the final regular-season standings and will play as the No. 6 seed at next week's C-USA Championship inside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Houston meets No. 11 seed Rice at 6 p.m., Wednesday in the First-Round matchup. The two teams split the regular-season series with each winning on its home court. However, the Cougars can claim the most recent success after an 84-62 win inside Hofheinz Pavilion a week ago.
Saturday's contest featured 53 fouls and 70 free throw attempts and saw two players foul out for the Cougars with three others with four fouls by the end of the game. Tulane took advantage to connect on 33-of-47 free throw attempts, including 29 tries in the second half alone.
Houston buried 59.3 percent (35-of-59) from the field in the game, including a blistering 65.4 percent (17-of-26) in the first half. The Cougars also committed only 13 turnovers in the game while dishing out 23 assists in the win.
With Thomas and freshman forward Danuel House hampered by foul trouble for most of the game, other Cougars stepped to the front. Three days after posting 18 points and 12 rebounds in Houston's Senior Night, forward Leon Gibson came off the bench to score 14 points and tied with junior guard Brandon Morris for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers also scored 14 points, thanks to 4-of-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line, while Thomas added 14 points and three assists in only 19 minutes.
Junior guard Tione Womack was forced from the lineup midway through the first half after being hit in the mouth but returned to the game early in the second half wearing a mouthpiece to add stability to the Cougar offense. The Baltimore native finished with a career-high nine points while adding four rebounds and two assists with a steal.
Timmons led Houston with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Davis added 21 points and seven rebounds. Kajon Mack came off the bench to score 16 points with three rebounds, while Ben Cherry added 11 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Jordan Callahan finished the night with 10 points in the losing effort.
Young posted his team-leading 13th 20-point game this season and the 16th of his career... The Houston native and Yates High product also enjoyed his sixth consecutive 20-point effort.
Womack has totaled 32 assists with only seven turnovers in eight starts this season... Saturday's game was the first time this season that Womack posted 2+ turnovers in a game in which he started.
Thomas started his 59th consecutive game, every game of his collegiate career.