Win slips away
A strong start did not spell victory for the Cougars against Rice at Hofheinz Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Cougars opened with a 13-0 run, but Rice quickly countered with a 13-5 run of their own.
The second half spelled trouble for the Cougars on defense, allowing Rice to shoot 58 percent from the field, giving up 44 points in route to a 79-71 loss.
“I think we got too comfortable with the lead, thinking that they were just going to give up, but they came back and fought,” forward TaShawn Thomas said.
After their 13-0 start, UH seemed to struggle, scoring only 21 points for the remainder of the first half.
Meanwhile Rice picked up their defense and caught fire from beyond the arc, pouring in seven 3-pointers, allowing them to steal the lead from the Cougars going into the half.
“Our players understood that to get back in this game, we weren’t going to do it offensively, but we were going to get back in this game defensively” said Rice head coach Ben Braun.
Rice’s hot second half shooting was a concern for head coach James Dickey.
“We have to get better at defending on the perimeter with high hands, getting to shooters quicker and become more committed to the defensive end of the ball,” Dickey said.
UH received great bench play from freshman guard Joseph Young and forward Kirk Van Slyke, giving the Cougars a combined 21 points.
“I saw that they were not getting back on defense, so I said just push the ball and spots will be open” Young said.
Guard Jonathan Simmons led UH in scoring and rebounding, stacking up 16 points and 10 rebounds, giving him his first taste of a double-double in his Houston career.
However, a tough loss by way of Rice’s late second-half surge left Simmons unsatisfied.
“We need to play for the whole 40 minutes not just 35.”