71 - 76 Final
  for this game

Houston hands UCF first loss

Jan 9, 2011 - 3:26 AM Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Zamal Nixon and Kirk Van Slyke each had 17 points as Houston handed No. 19 UCF its first loss of the season, 76-71, at the Hofheinz Pavilion.

Maurice McNeil posted 15 points for the Cougars (9-6, 1-1 Conference USA), who have won three of their last four contests. Alandise Harris added 14 points and six rebounds for the victors.

"I wanted our players to expect to win even though UCF was 14-0 and ranked heading into the game today," said Houston head coach James Dickey. "I want to protect our home court, and this is a special place to play. It's got a lot of tradition and history."

Tom Herzog and Keith Clanton each posted 13 points while Clanton added nine boards for the Knights (14-1, 1-1), who were coming off a 65-58 win over Marshall on Wednesday. A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan chipped in 10 points each in the losing effort.

Trailing 42-27, UCF went on a 10-0 run capped off by Dave Diakite's layup with 14:06 remaining in the game.

The visitors were again within five until McNeil's three-point play. Nixon's layup with 12 minutes left made the score 51-41.

The 19th-ranked team in the nation would not surrender its first loss of the season easily, though. The Knights rallied the next five points led by Clanton's 3-of-4 performance from the charity stripe.

The margin would go back into double digits, 65-54, with 3:16 left to play on McNeil's jam. UCF scored the next five points, though, and Rompza nailed a three-pointer with 1:23 left to make the score 67-62.

Herzog made a layup with 28 seconds to make it a 70-66 game. However, Adam Brown sank all four free throw attempts to extend the margin to eight with 18 ticks left.

The Knights were unable to finish the comeback despite a Jordan jumper and a Rompza trey during the next six seconds which made it a one-possession game, 74-71.

Brown then hit two free throws to seal with win.

"What I'm most proud of tonight was when UCF made their run, our guys really responded and pushed the lead back to 11 points," Dickey said. "We made it too exciting at the end."

Houston scored the first eight points of the contest and then ballooned the margin to 24-8 on Nixon's layup with just under 12 minutes left in the first half.

UCF ended the half with a Isaac Sosa three-pointer, Jordan and Taylor Young each made two from the free throw to cut into the deficit 36-21 as the two teams headed into the locker room.

Game Notes

Houston leads the series 8-4...The Cougars were efficient from the three-point arc making 6-of-12 shots, while UCF struggled by draining just three of its 14 attempts from beyond the arc...The Cougars never trailed in the game.