Rob Gray, No. 25 Houston hold off UConn 81-71
Gray was 10 of 15 from the floor for the Cougars (24-6, 14-4 American Athletic Conference), who have won ten of their last 12. Devin Davis added 12 points for Houston, which shot 45 percent from the field and hit eight of 20 from behind the arc. The Cougars finished 15-0 at home, the first time Houston has done that since 1983-84.
Jalen Adams had 22 points and six assists, Terry Larrier added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Christian Vital had 11 points for Uconn (14-17, 7-11), which has lost three of its last four. The Huskies shot 51 percent from the field, including 55 percent in the first half.
Trailing 65-63, Gray hit a free throw to cut the lead to one before hitting a reverse layup and a free throw after getting fouled to give Houston a two-point lead. Following a free throw by Antwoine Anderson, Gray hit a 3-pointer from 25 feet to give the Cougars a four-point lead with four minutes left.
The teams traded points before Vital hit a free throw with 2:53 left to cut the lead to 72-69. After Adams missed a jumper, Gray hit two free throws with 1:46 left to increase Houston’s lead to five. Adams missed two free throws next time down the floor, and Fabian White Jr. connected on two free throws with 1:13 left to push the Cougars’ lead to seven.
That would be as close as the Huskies would get.
UConn led 38-37 at the half. Houston led by as many as 13 at 22-9 with 13 minutes left in the half, but the Huskies outscored the Cougars 10-2 to end the half as Adams scored the last five points.
UConn: The Huskies hung with the Cougars for most of the contest and held a one-point lead with five minutes left, but could not hold on. UConn struggled from the field late in the second half, connecting on two field goals in the last 11 minutes and from the free throw line in the second half, missing seven free throws.
Houston: The Cougars continued to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume. Houston hit 23 of 30 from the free-throw line in the second half and used strong defense to pull out the win. The Cougars forced 14 turnovers and turned those into 18 points. Houston out-rebounded the Huskies 35-27.
Houston honored Gray, Devin Davis, guard Wes VanBeck and forward Nura Zanna on senior day. Gray is 10th in school history with 1,581 points, trailing Greg Anderson by 81 points for ninth.
ROCKETS IN THE BUILDING
Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Eric Gordon sat courtside opposite the Cougars’ bench. Houston coach Kelvin Sampson coached Gordon at Indiana, and Sampson was an assistant with Harden’s Rockets before taking the Cougars’ coaching job.
Uconn starts the AAC Tournament in Orlando on Thursday.
Houston earned the third seed and a first-round bye in the AAC Tournament and will begin play in Friday’s quarterfinals.