Dec. 31, 2013
HOUSTON (AP) - TaShawn Thomas scored 23 points, including two free throws with 9 seconds left, and blocked a late layup by Shabazz Napier as Houston rallied for a 75-71 victory over No. 17 Connecticut on Tuesday night in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Thomas was 8 of 15 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line and grabbed eight rebounds for Houston (9-5, 1-0), which defeated a ranked team for the first time since beating Central Florida on Jan. 8, 2011.
Napier scored 25 of his 27 points in the second half as he led the Huskies (11-2, 0-1) back from a 21-point first-half deficit to hold a lead with just over a minute remaining.
Ryan Boatright finished with 19 points and nine assists, and DeAndre Daniels added 12 points for Connecticut.
Thomas drove the basket and put up a jumper with 9 seconds left but was fouled by Tyler Olander. Thomas connected on both free throws to put Houston up by two.
Napier drove coast-to-coast for a layup, but Thomas blocked it, and Tione Womack grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Womack hit two free throws to give Houston the four-point lead with 2 seconds left.
Trailing 71-68, Stiggers tied it with a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining. Napier missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 38 seconds left.
Napier only points in the first half came on two free throws with 4 seconds left. He started the second half by scoring 14 of the Huskies' first 21 points as part of a 21-3 run that tied the game at 49 with 12:55 left on a dunk by Niels Giffey.
Connecticut took its first lead of the game on a 3 by Daniels with 3:40 remaining that made it 67-64.
The Cougars jumped to a 10-2 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes on two 3s by LeRon Barnes and two jumpers by Thomas, prompting Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie to call a timeout.
Houston upped its lead to 20-8 with 11:53 left in the first half on a layup by Stiggers, prompting another Connecticut timeout.
The Cougars pushed the lead to 45-24 on two free throws by Jaaron Simmons with 2:25 left and led 46-28 at halftime.
The Cougars hit the road in American Athletic Conference play for the first time when they meet USF at 3 p.m. (CST)/4 p.m. (EST) at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
Houston returns to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion when it plays host to Cincinnati at 8 p.m., Jan. 7.
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