HOUSTON - Redshirt freshman guard Joseph Young's 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining turned a 1-point deficit into a 2-point lead and helped lift the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 71-67 win against North Carolina A&T on Wednesday afternoon inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
In a game that went back and forth during the final three minutes, Young gave the Cougars the final say in their first ever meeting against the Aggies. Sophomore forward Alandise Harris gave Houston a 66-65 lead with 94 seconds left before Adrian Powell's jumper with 54 seconds remaining handed North Carolina A&T a 67-66 lead.
The Cougars worked the clock down before head coach James Dickey elected to use a timeout. On the ensuing inbounds play, senior guard Darian Thibodeaux threw the ball to Young, whose defender reached out to make a steal and overplayed his man.
Seeing that opportunity, Young calmly stepped back and buried his second 3-pointer of the night from the left wing to bring most of the crowd of 4,030 to its feet. The Houston native and Yates High product finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds and added a career-high four blocked shots.
On the ensuing possession, the Aggies worked the ball around before Austin Witter missed a 3-point attempt. DaMetrius Upchurch grabbed the offensive rebound, but his putback was off the mark and that rebound went out of bounds to give the Cougars the ball with nine seconds left.
A lack of foul trouble then helped the Cougars. With only four team fouls in the second half until that point, Houston had to inbound the ball three more times - knocking off three seconds - before Thibodeaux finally went to the line for the 1-and-1. The Dallas native calmly stepped to the charity stripe and nailed both attempts to give Houston a 4-point advantage with just six seconds to go.
Powell's 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark for the final margin of victory.
With the win, the Cougars recorded their third straight win and their fourth consecutive home win. Houston improved to 7-5, while North Carolina A&T dropped its eighth straight game and fell to 4-11.
Thibodeaux did a little of everything for the Cougars in the win, compiling 13 points with three 3-pointers, five rebounds, six assists and a pair of blocked shots with no turnovers in 36 minutes. Plagued by foul trouble early in the game, junior guard Jonathon Simmons tied with Thibodeaux for the team lead with 13 points - all in the second half - but saw his streak of five straight 20-point games come to an end.
Freshman forward TaShawn Thomas grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds with a career-high six blocked shots and fell just a point shy of recording his third double-double of the season.
North Carolina A&T guard Marc Hill led all players with 18 points, while Powell finished with 12 points. Nic Simpson came off the bench to post 14 points, including four 3-pointers, while Upchurch added eight points and a game-high-tying 10 rebounds in the loss.
The Cougars continue their season-long, five-game homestand when they play host to Texas State at 8 p.m., Friday, inside Hofheinz. Houston will have revenge on its mind after battling back from a 23-point second-half deficit before eventually falling 81-78 in San Marcos, Texas, on Dec. 6.
Friday's game will be broadcast live on CSS with John Granato calling the play-by-play action and Brian Oliver providing analysis.
From there, the Cougars wrap up their homestand when they open Conference USA play against league-rival Tulsa on 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 hear live 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.