TAIHE, China -- University of Houston senior guard LeRon Barnes posted 13 points to lead four Cougars in double digits during a 74-64 win against the Qingdao Doublestars on Sunday night inside the Fuyang (Taihe County) Indoor Stadium.
As Qingdao chipped away at Houston's 37-26 halftime, Barnes nearly single-handedly kept the Cougars in the game, scoring all but three of his 13 points in the third period. The Stonewall, La., native scored eight of the Cougars' final 12 points during the final five-and-a-half minutes of the quarter and added a team-high eight rebounds as well.
Sophomore guard Rob Gray, Jr., junior guard Ronnie Johnson and senior forward Devonta Pollard added 12 points apiece for the Cougars in the win with Gray's two 3-pointers leading all players. Pollard snared six boards in the contest, including three off the offensive glass to tie with Barnes for team-high honors.
A night after losing to the Doublestars, the Cougars used a superior defensive effort in the second quarter to seize control of the game. With the score tied 16-16 after the initial period, the Cougars outscored Qingdao 21-10 in the second quarter to build a lead they would never surrender.
The Doublestars took a 21-10 lead with 7:32 left in the first half, but the Cougars closed the period on a 17-5 run for a 37-26 halftime advantage. Qingdao managed only four field goals and a pair of free throws in the second period.
Trailing 50-35 following a Barnes jumper with 4:10 left in the third period, Qingdao scored the next seven points to trim the deficit to single digits. However, junior forward Xavier Dupree buried a rally-killing 3-pointer at the top of the key to halt the threat.
The two teams went back and forth in the final period with neither squad scoring more than four unanswered points.
Despite not hitting a 3-pointer in the game -- a night after sinking four treys -- Qingdao took advantage of 26 Houston fouls to convert 24-of-35 free throws. This came less than 24 hours after the Doublestars buried 33-of-47 free throws off 31 Houston fouls.
Sunday's win came after the Cougars endured a 5-hour bus ride from Taihu earlier in the day. The team did not arrive at the Huayuan International Hotel until approximately 7:15 p.m. After checking into their rooms and packing their gear, the contest did not start until 9 p.m. (China ST).
Despite both team's late arrival, an overflowing crowd of more than 5,000 was waiting patiently and quietly when both teams stepped onto the court for pregame warmups.
Sunday's game was the grand opening of the Fuyang (Taihe County) Indoor Stadium, built at a cost of nearly 5 million yuan. The overall facility also houses a soccer stadium.
The Cougars wrap up their game schedule when they face the Qingdao Doublestars at 7:30 p.m. (China ST), Monday, in Tongling.
Following the games, the Cougars will enjoy several cultural sites on their trip. On Tuesday, the team will visit Yellow Mountain, an area renamed after the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) in 747 AD. Several Buddhist temples have been built there, and it has become a tourist attraction with its beautiful scenery.
The team also will visit Xi Di Hong, a village built during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Built in the shape of an ox, the village enjoys more than 900 years of history.
Both Yellow Mountain and Xi Di Hong have been registered as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Cougars return to Houston on the evening of Aug. 20 with the first day of classes set for Aug. 24.
|Friday, Aug. 14||Houston 93, Chinese Junior National Team 83 (in Hefei)|
|Saturday, Aug. 15||Qingdao Doublestars 77, Houston 66 (in Taihu)|
|Sunday, Aug. 16||Houston 74, Qingdao Doublestars 64 (in Taihe)|
|Monday, Aug. 17||Game 4 vs. Opponent TBA in Tongling
7:30 p.m. (China Standard Time)
|Tuesday, Aug. 18||Tour of Yellow Mountain & team activities|
|Wednesday, Aug. 19||Tour of Xi Di Hong Village & team activities|
|Thursday, Aug. 20||Return to Houston|
Please note that China Standard Time is 13 hours ahead of Central Daylight Time. When it is noon, Thursday, in Houston, it is 1 a.m., Friday in Anhui Province, China.
Reserved 1 season tickets will soon be available for $250 per seat for all 18 regular-season home games, while Reserved 2 season tickets will sell for $150 per seat. As an added benefit this season, fans who purchase Reserved 1 Men's Basketball season tickets will receive the same number of Houston Women's Basketball season tickets FREE.
For the first time in 2015-16, fans also can purchase $99 Anytime season tickets. With Anytime season tickets, With Anytime season tickets, fans will receive one ticket for each of the 18 regular-season home games.
From there, fans can use their Anytime season tickets any way they like. They can use one ticket for each home game or take 17 friends to one home game or any combination in between.
As always, current University of Houston students are admitted free with valid IDs to Houston Men's Basketball games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans can view a Hofheinz Pavilion map with season-ticket pricing by clicking here.
Houston fans can connect with Fan Experience Headquarters by phone or text, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 713-462-6647 and can purchase tickets online 24/7 at UHCougars.com/tickets.
Any deposit amount paid will be credited toward season-ticket costs once they go on sale. New season-ticket members who make a deposit will be contacted by a Houston Athletics Ticket Sales staff member to choose their seats.
Fans should also stay tuned to UHCougars.com and Houston Men's Basketball social media sites for the latest information about ticket sales.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
The Cougars return six lettermen and four starters from last year's team, which recorded 13 wins and knocked off defending national champion UConn inside Hofheinz Pavilion for the second consecutive year.
Battling injuries throughout the season, the Cougars enjoyed a late-season surge, winning four of their final five games, including the lone upset in the American Athletic Conference Championship First Round in Hartford, Conn.
Senior guard LeRon Barnes, the Cougars' lone 3-year letterwinners, returns after ranking among The American's top-10 leaders in both offensive and defensive rebounding, while senior forward Devonta Pollard enters the 2015-16 campaign as the Cougars' top returning scorer with 11.4 points per game.
Junior forward Danrad Knowles ranked third on the team in both scoring and rebounding, and senior guard L.J Rose looks for his third 100+ assist season while wearing the Scarlet and White.
Houston also welcomes the return of junior guard Ronnie Johnson and junior forward Bertrand Nkali to competition. Both players practiced with the Cougars but sat out the 2014-15 season after Johnson transferred from Purdue and Nkali missed the year with an injury.
The Cougars will be boosted by the addition of five newcomers to the team, including freshman guard Galen Robinson (Westbury Christian/Houston); sophomore guard Rob Gray, Jr. (Howard JC/Forest City, N.C.); junior guard Damyean Dotson (Oregon/Houston); junior forward Xavier Dupree (Paris JC/Houston) and junior center Kyle Meyer (Eastern Florida State College/Atlanta).
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.