HOUSTON - University of Houston junior guard Ronnie Johnson poured in a season-high 25 points to lead the Cougars to an 81-65 win over Eastern Illinois during the Global Sports Classic Second Round inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Saturday afternoon in a game presented by Maintenance Supply Headquarters.
Competing in his first season with the Cougars, Johnson connected on 7-of-14 from the field, including three treys, and sank all eight free throw tries for his second 20-point outing of the year. The Indianapolis native topped his previous season high of 20 points against Florida A&M on Nov. 21, thanks to 16 second-half points against the Panthers.
Facing one another for the first time, the two teams battled back and forth until early in the second half when the Cougars broke open a close game. Leading 50-47 following Patrick Muldoon's jumper with 14:21 remaining, the Cougars scored the next seven points with five from Johnson to build a double-digit lead and never led by fewer than eight points the rest of the way.
With the win, Houston improved to 8-1. It was the Cougars' best start after nine games since the 2007-08 team started 10-1. Eastern Illinois dropped its third straight game and fell to 2-7.
Eastern Illinois built a 36-32 lead late in the first half, but the Cougars roared back to close the opening 20 minutes on a 9-1 run to take a 41-37 advantage into the locker room.
Junior guard Damyean Dotson finished with 16 points and six rebounds and put the Cougars off on a hot start with 11 points in a 4-minute stretch. Freshman point guard Galen Robinson, Jr., added 11 points with five rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals in the second start of his career.
Eastern Illinois guard Cornell Johnston led the Panthers with 19 points, while Demetrius McReynolds added 13 points and tied with Trae Anderson for team-high honors with six rebounds. Muldoon added 10 points and four boards in the loss.
Following Saturday's game, the Cougars hit the road for the second time this season to compete in the Global Sports Classic Third and Championship Rounds in Las Vegas. Houston opens play against Grand Canyon at 7 p.m. (CST), Monday, inside Cox Pavilion.
From there, the Cougars meet the winner/loser of the Marshall-Wyoming game at a time to be determined.
Houston returns to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion to play host to Nicholls State at 1 p.m., Dec. 28, in its final non-conference game of the season.
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.