|Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loca Photography|
Freshman forward leads all with 28 points in Cougars’ Conference USA opener
HOUSTON, TEXAS (January 9, 2013) Freshman forward Danuel House (pictured left) poured in a career-high 28 points to help lead the University of Houston Men’s Basketball team to a 78-67 win over SMU in its Conference USA opener inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Sugar Land, Texas, native and Hightower High product connected on 7-of-11 shots from the field and converted a career-high 13-of-17 attempts from the free throw line for his fourth 20-point game during his inaugural collegiate season.
House, who was the Cougars’ third-leading scorer entering the game, also added two assists with a blocked shot while playing all but one minute in the game. He topped his previous high of 22 points, set earlier this season against Chicago State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
With the win, Houston won its seventh straight game and improved to 12-2 overall. More importantly, the Cougars moved to 1-0 in league play, winning its C-USA opener for the fifth time in the last six seasons. SMU lost its third straight game and fell to 10-7 overall, 0-2 in C-USA.
The Cougars overcame a sluggish first half that saw them trail 36-32 at the break. The Mustangs took advantage of 61.5 percent shooting in the first half and forced 10 Houston turnovers to put the Cougars in a hole through the first 20 minutes for only the fifth time this season.
Houston used a pair of second-half runs to take the win. Trailing 47-38 on a tip-in from SMU’s Jalen Jones, the Cougars scored the game’s next nine points to build a 48-47 lead when House drained the second of two free throw attempts for Houston’s first lead since the 19:33 mark of the first half.
The two teams battled back and forth from there and eventually found themselves in a 57-57 tie on Jones’ dunk with 6:36 left to play. However, the Cougars erupted on a 12-3 run during the next five minutes to build a 69-60 advantage on another free throw from House.
SMU rallied and moved to within 72-67 on a 3-pointer from Nick Russell with just less than a minute remaining, but that would be as close as the Mustangs would get. Houston closed out the game with six straight points with four of those coming from House.
After falling behind in the first 20 minutes, the Cougars connected on 44.8 percent from the field while limiting SMU to only 30.8 percent. The Cougars also reduced their turnover number to three in the final 20 minutes while forcing seven SMU giveaways.
Sophomore guard Joseph Young finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in 34 minutes for his team-leading sixth 20-point game this season and the ninth of his career. Senior forward Leon Gibson scored eight points with a career-high 14 rebounds. Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas was held to six points but grabbed 12 rebounds with four assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals.
Jones led SMU with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Russell added 14 points, including a pair of treys. Ryan Manuel paced the Mustangs with a game-high-tying four assists.