Houston needed every bit of its top-25 scoring offense to fend off upset-minded UT-Arlington in its 71-63 victory Wednesday night at the Fertitta Center.
The Cougars, now 6-2, were anchored by sophomore guard Nate Hinton’s 25-point outing and extended their winning streak to four straight.
Hinton’s efficient 9-of-15 outing saw him record his career high in points. He also led the team in rebounds with 10, giving him his fourth double-double of the season.
Along with Hinton’s abundant shooting, redshirt freshman guard Caleb Mills and sophomore guard Quentin Grimes joined the North Carolina native in double-digit scoring.
Mills recorded 17 points on six of 11 from the field while Grimes added 10 points of his own and made four of eight attempts.
As a team, the Cougars shot 44.6 percent from the field, coming short of their average of 47 percent this season. Redshirt junior guard Dejon Jarreau led in assists with six.
Despite the discrepancy in records and rankings, the visiting Mavericks never let the Cougars create a massive lead.
UT-Arlington, now to 4-7, were led by senior guard Brian Warren’s hot hand as he recorded 27 points, a game high.
A majority of the affair in the Fertitta Center was a single-digit one, with Houston’s largest first-half lead being a 14-2 advantage early on. Houston led UT-Arlington 36-30 at the midway point, with nine turnovers creating seven points for the Mavericks in the first.
UH coughed it up 16 times, compared to just five by UT-Arlington, which led to 14 points for the visitors in total.
The Cougars reclaimed a double-digit lead with 13:32 remaining in the game behind a Hinton 3-pointer, but sluggish offensive performances from both sides saw the game remain as a manageable one for the Mavericks as they entered the under-12 timeout trailing 50-43.
The two combined to shoot just eight of 29 through the first eight minutes.
The Mavericks pulled within five with 11:04 remaining, but a Mills and-one and a Grimes layup extended the lead to 55-45 with 9:24 to play. Mills matched the Cougars’ largest lead with a 3-pointer at the 8:12 mark to give Houston a 58-46 cushion.
Houston used a 15-9 run over seven minutes to build a comfortable lead and also limit UT-Arlington to make just one of 11 field goal attempts.
The Mavericks’ went nearly six minutes without a made field goal as the Cougars attempted to close out the game.
However, UT-Arlington showed why its six losses this season have been by an average of just 8.2 points as it closed UH’s lead to five with one minute to play.
The Cougars were clinical from the charity stripe down the stretch and were able to seal the victory.
Houston was the benefactor of a massive rebound advantage as they dominated the glass with 49 rebounds to just 31 for UT-Arlington.
The Cougars snatched 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 14 second-chance points. UH is third in the nation in offensive rebounds, as it has grabbed 39.9 percent of its missed shots.
UH is now 19-2 inside the Fertitta Center since its opening last December.