MEMPHIS — Sixth-seeded Houston upset the third-seeded SMU Mustangs 68-64 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
The Cougars (17-15) trailed by 10 early in the second half, but rebounded behind strong outside shooting to topple 25th-ranked SMU (23-9).
Guard Jherrod Stiggers led Houston with 19 points, while guard L.J. Rose scored 16 and forward TaShawn Thomas had 14.
SMU was led by center Cannen Cunningham, who finished with 14 but had only two in the second half. Forward Markus Kennedy added 13.
For Houston, it was the Cougars’ fifth win in its last six games.
The Cougars never trailed after taking a 48-46 lead midway through the second half. SMU trimmed the deficit to one point (61-60) with four minutes left, but couldn’t get closer. Two free throws by guard Danuel House with 13.7 seconds left gave Houston a 66-62 lead. Kennedy hit a two-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
Houston shot 48 percent in the second half and limited SMU to 25 percent (5 of 20) during the same span.
SMU opened the half by extending its nine-point lead at the intermission to double digits. Guard Sterling Brown’s layup early in the half put the Mustangs up 42-32.
Houston gradually chipped away at the SMU lead behind a flurry of 3-pointers to take a 51-46 lead. Stiggers had two of the 3-pointers during a 14-4 run that put the Cougars ahead 51-46.
SMU led 38-29 at the half behind Cunningham’s strong inside play and guard Nick Russell’s outside shooting. Cunningham hit 4 of 6 in the first half and had 12 points, while Russell dropped in two 3-pointers. The Mustangs shot 50 percent in the half.
While the lead changed four times in the opening half, the Mustangs built their biggest advantage in the closing moments behind a Russell-led 12-4 run to give SMU its nine-point halftime lead. Russell hit his two 3-pointers in the final four minutes and started the run with a trey to give the Mustangs a 29-25 lead.
Stiggers had 13 in the opening half to pace Houston. Stiggers was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc in the half.
NOTES: SMU G Nic Moore entered the AAC quarterfinal having missed only 17 of 109 free-throw attempts this season. He missed two in the second half. … With the win, Houston avenged a 68-64 (same score) loss to SMU during the regular season.
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