HOUSTON - University of Houston junior guard Rob Gray poured in a team-high 30 points, and senior forward Danrad Knowles chipped in with 25 to lead the Cougars to an 82-77 win over Rhode Island on Saturday afternoon inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
After falling behind early, the Cougars connected on 56.5 percent of from the field in the second half and limited the Rams to only 42.4 percent in the final 20 minutes.
The game did not start well for the Cougars. Houston trailed 14-5 just more than four minutes into the game after URI guard E.C. Matthews drained a 3-pointer and faced a 42-37 halftime deficit.
Fortunately, Gray scored nine of the Cougars' first 11 points to start the second half and moved the Cougars into a 48-48 tie after burying a 3-pointer with 15:37 remaining.
The two teams went back and forth from there with neither team able to score more than three unanswered points until the Cougars used a 5-0 rally and built a 67-62 lead on Gray's jumper with 6:25 left in the contest.
Following a Rhode Island timeout, the Rams scored the next six points to take a 68-67 lead after Stanford Robinson converted an and-1 with 4:33 left.
However, the Cougar defense stepped up to force four Rhode Island turnovers and a missed 3-pointer on the ensuing possession with the Cougars sinking all six free throw attempts during that stretch to build a 73-68 lead with just more than two minutes remaining.
The Rams pulled to within 73-70 with 1:48 left on Kuran Iverson's jumper. After a Houston foul, Iverson missed the front end of a 1-and-1. On the Cougars' ensuing possession, sophomore point guard Galen Robinson Jr.'s jumper was off the mark, but the Houston native snared the offensive board and fed freshman guard Armoni Brooks, who drained an ice-cold 3-pointer from the right wing to double the Cougars lead with 78 ticks left on the clock.
Gray saw four more free throws over the final 24 seconds to ice the win and lead the Cougars to their fourth straight home win inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Gray recorded his third straight game with 20+ points and enjoyed only the third 30-point game of his career. The Forest City, N.C., native did a little of everything for the Cougars, tying with senior guard Damyean Dotson for the team lead with seven rebounds and equaling Robinson Jr.'s game-high total of five assists.
Knowles was equally impressive. The Nassau, Bahamas, native converted 7-of-10 shots from the field and made all but one of his 12 free throw tries for his first 20-point game of the season and only the fourth of his career.
Dotson added 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers for the Cougars.
Matthews led all players with 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting, including 6-of-12 from the 3-point line. Iverson and forward Cyril Langevine added 10 points with Langevine's 11 rebounds leading all players.
Following Saturday's game, the Cougars continue their season-long, four-game homestand when they play host to UT Rio Grande Valley at 7 p.m., Saturday, inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Fans should note that the Dec. 17 UTRGV game time was recently changed to avoid conflicts with Houston Football's Dec. 17 appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl against San Diego State earlier that day.
From there, the Cougars compete in the final two games of the homestand against Liberty (7 p.m., Dec. 21) and Harvard (7 p.m., Dec. 23) inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Season tickets, single-game tickets, mini-plans and group ticket packages are available to accommodate all budgets. Fans can visit uhcougars.com/tickets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and follow the appropriate links or call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) to order tickets.
Current University of Houston main campus students are admitted FREE to all Men's Basketball games with valid IDs. Main campus students may purchase up to two (2) student guest tickets to each Men's Basketball game for $8 each, based on availability.
For as low as $80, fans can purchase season tickets to all 16 regular-season game plus two exhibition contests during the final season inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Reserved 2 seating is available for only $130, while fans can enjoy Reserved 1 seating for $225.
Single game tickets begin at only $12 for American Athletic Conference games and $10 for non-conference games.
JOIN the 50-50 CLUB
Fans are invited to join the 50-50 Club to support Houston Men's Basketball. 50-50 Club members help fund program necessities and enhance the experience for our student-athletes.
Fans who join the 50-50 Club will receive embroidered team apparel, a signed basketball, invitations to practice, a tour of the $25 million Guy V. Lewis Development Facility, regular updates about the program and much more.
Fans can receive updates by following @UHCougarMBK on Twitter and catch up with the latest news and notes on the team by clicking LIKE on the team's Facebook and Instagram pages.