HOUSTON - Overcoming a halftime deficit, the University of Houston Men's Basketball program rallied impressively to take a 73-65 win over North Carolina Central during the Global Sports Classic First Round on Wednesday evening inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Cougars, who improved to 7-1 this, connected on only 31 percent of their shots in the first half and trailed 31-28 at the break.
Fortunately, the Cougars used an offensive outburst in the second half to post the program's first 7-1 start through eight games since 2008-09. Houston connected on nearly 52 percent of their 27 shots from the field in the second half and finished at 41.1 percent for the game.
However, the final 20 minutes didn't start well for the Cougars, who fell behind 38-32 with 18:19 remaining following a dunk from Jeremiah Ingram.
With the Eagles leading 45-41, the Cougars took off on a 19-4 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to build a 60-49 advantage. Junior guard Ronnie Johnson led the way for Houston with eight of his 12 points during that stretch.
Despite that double-digit lead, North Carolina Central continued to chip away and closed the gap to 66-63 on another Ingram dunk with 1:38 left in the game. After Head Coach Kelvin Sampson called a timeout, junior guard and Yates High product Damyean Dotson gave the Cougars a 69-63 cushion with his third and final 3-pointer of the night from the baseline.
Senior forward Devonta Pollard led the Cougars with 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Johnson totaled 12 points with four rebounds and three assists, while sophomore guard Rob Gray, Jr., added 14 second-half points. Dotson totaled 14 points with six rebounds and a pair of assists in the win.
Patrick Cole came off the bench to lead North Carolina Central with 17 points, thanks to a 9-of-11 performance from the free throw line. Ingram added 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Dajuan Graf totaled 12 points with three rebounds. Dante Holmes finished with 10 pints, three rebounds and three assists.
Following Wednesday's game, the Cougars play host to Eastern Illinois at 3 p.m., Saturday, in the Global Sports Classic Second Round inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
YOUTH BASKETBALL NIGHT
Youth basketball teams from the Houston area are invited to Saturday's game against Eastern Illinois and encouraged to wear their team jerseys.
Youth basketball players (grades K-6th) who wear their team jerseys to Saturday's game will be admitted FREE. Fans accompanying youth players wearing team jerseys can purchase additional tickets for only $5 on the day of the game.
Youth basketball teams are encouraged to stay until the end of the game and take a team photo on Guy V. Lewis Court inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Teams also will receive the Cougars' official 2015-16 team poster.
For more information about Youth Basketball Nights, fans should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the Christmas holidays quickly approaching, young (and old) Houston fans will have one last chance to take a photo with Shasta Claus prior to a Men's Basketball game.
Shasta Claus will be taking photos with all fans on the concourse by the Holman Street entrance before Saturday's game against Eastern Illinois. Gates open at 2 p.m., Saturday.
Fans also will have the opportunity to take photos with Shasta Claus prior to the Women's Basketball game against UT Rio Grande Valley, which tips off at 1 p.m., Sunday, inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
HOW TO ORDER TICKETS
Fans have a variety of ticket options to accommodate any budget. Season tickets, group tickets, single-game tickets and 3-Point Packs are on sale now. To purchase tickets or for complete information, fans can visit uhcougars.com/tickets and follow the appropriate links or click here.
Fans also 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.
Single-game tickets for Houston Men's Basketball's 2015-16 season begin at only $5 per game. Fans can purchase General Admission single-game tickets for only $5, while Reserved 2 seating is available for only $10 per game. Fans may buy Reserved 1 single-game tickets for $15 per ticket.
Fans can purchase single-game tickets by clicking here.
Fans can purchase three tickets to Houston home games in the 3-Point Pack. Reserved 1 seating for the 3-Point Pack can be purchased for $40 with Reserved seating available for only $30.
Fans can purchase the 3-Point Pack by clicking here.
Tickets for groups of 10-24 or more can be purchased for as low as $12 per ticket in Reserved 2 for 18 regular-season home games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Groups of more than 25 people can buy Reserved 2 tickets for only $10 per ticket
Groups of 10-24 can buy tickets for only $10 per ticket in Reserved 2 with prices plummeting to only $6 per ticket for groups of 25 or more.
Administrators can find more information about group tickets seating and pricing by clicking here.
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.