Dec. 20, 2011
HOUSTON - Junior guard Jonathon Simmons scored a team-high 22 points, and the University of Houston men's basketball team held off a late rally to take a 77-75 win against UTSA on Tuesday evening inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
For the fourth consecutive game, Simmons led the Cougars in scoring with a 20-point effort. The Houston native and Smiley High product connected on 8-of-13 from the field and hit 5-of-7 attempts from the free throw line.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 5-5, while UTSA fell to 5-5.
Overcoming a sluggish start that saw them trail by as many as eight points within the first five minutes, the Cougars rallied late in the first half and closed out the opening period on a 7-0 run that was capped by sophomore forward Alandise Harris' 3-pointer at the top of the key.
Houston would lead the rest of the way in a game that featured no ties and only the one lead change. The Cougars roared out of the locker room in the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Darian Thibodeaux and Simmons to build an 8-point cushion less than a minute into the final period.
The Roadrunners moved to within 61-60 on Alex Vouyoukas' tip-in with 6:22 left, but Houston scored the game's next eight points for its largest margin of the contest.
UTSA continued to threaten and moved to within 74-72 on Melvin Johnson's jumper with 19 seconds left. However, freshman point guard J.J. Thompson - making his first career start in front of the Houston faithful - drained a pair of free throws to give the Cougars a 4-point lead.
Hill drained his final trey with nine seconds remaining to pull UTSA to within 76-75. After Simmons was fouled, he drained 1-of-2 free throws for the final points of the night. UTSA had one last chance with 4.6 seconds left, but Johnson III's desperation 3-pointer was off the mark.
Harris finished with 18 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, while Thibodeaux added 14 points with a season-high four 3-pointers and three rebounds.
Johnson III led UTSA with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, while Kannon Burrage came off the bench came off the bench to post 18 points with a pair of treys. Hill added 15 points with three 3-pointers of his own and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in the loss.
Houston overcame its slow start, thanks to steady shooting throughout the night. The Cougars shot a season-best 59.2 percent (29-of-49) in the game, including a blistering 62.5 percent clip (15-of-24) in the second half.
There will be no rest for the weary, as the Cougars continue their season-long homestand. Houston plays host to Rogers State at 7 p.m., Wednesday, inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
From there, the homestand continues against North Carolina A&T (Dec. 28), Texas State (Dec. 30) and Tulsa (Jan. 4).
Fans can hear all Cougar Basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tipoff.
Fans can follow live scoring by clicking the "GameTracker" link at UHCougars.com.
Fans also can watch live video and audio via Cougar All-Access at UHCougars.com. Fans should note that a charge is required to watch and hear streamed games on-line.
Single-game tickets are now on sale at the Houston Athletics Ticket Office. In addition, fans also can purchase the Conference USA Pack, which includes eight exciting league games.
In the C-USA Pack, fans can buy Reserved seating to all Saturday men's home games for $99 with General Admission tickets available for only $75.
With the purchase of the Family Fun Plan, fans receive 2 adult and 2 youth general admission tickets to all Saturday C-USA games for only $159. Tickets for additional children are available for only $40 each in this Plan.
Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting UHCougars.com and clicking the Tickets tab and following the appropriate links or by clicking the Tickets link here.