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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Coogs lose to SMU, 75-68

Coogs shot 56.5% from the floor in the second half; but, turned the ball over 7 times
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Posted: January 26, 2014 -- 5:58pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (Hofheinz Pavilion) -- The Houston Cougars limited the SMU Mustangs to 26.9% shooting in the first half and led by six (31-25) at halftime. Then, SMU's Nic Moore happened. Houston's defense relaxed and Moore took advantage by making 7 of his 9 field goals in the second half and scoring 22 points as the Cougars allowed 50 second-half points in a 75-68 defeat in front of an announced crowd of 4,567 fans.

In addition to SMU's hot shooting in the second-half (16 for 26 field goals), the Cougars turned the ball over seven times in the second half while the Mustangs did not turn the ball over once.

"Just a very disappointing second half for us," said UH head coach James Dickey after the game. "Obviously, Nic (Moore) was outstanding for them; but, we defended so well in the first half. We did a good job on the offensive end in the second half. We were not very good defensively. I don't want to take anything away from them, but they got too many easy baskets. You just cant let one guy go off like that. He had a tremendous second half.

"We have to defend for 40 minutes," Dickey added. "Defense is something that you can play every day and every night. Offense is going to be a little inconsistent. That’s something that we have to go continue to impress, and it has to be in our formula for winning."

Houston (11-9 overall, 3-4 in the American Athletic Conference) finished the first half on a 13-6 run to erase a 19-18 deficit and lead 31-25 at halftime.

The Mustangs (16-4, 5-2) started the second half with a 7-1 run to tie the game at 32.

"They came out and punched us in the mouth in the second half," House said after the game. "And, we didn’t respond the right way."

Coach Dickey added, "One of the things we do once we make the (halftime) adjustments is try to get the guys back out to where they get going. We want to make sure we get back with enough time. Whatever I’m doing one way or the other it has not been very good. We have to do a better job than that."

Then, the two teams exchanged baskets; and, the game was tied six more times during the next eight plus minutes.

After Nic Moore gave the Mustangs a 51-50 lead, Danuel House scored a layup to put the Coogs ahead 52-51. But, the Mustangs scored six straight points to lead 57-52 with 6:23 remaining in the game.

Danuel House nailed two 3-point shots sandwiched around a layup by SMU's Markus Kennedy to pull the Coogs within one point (59-58); but, the Coogs missed four shots and committed turnovers over the next three minutes as the Mustangs stretched the lead to 65-58 with just 1:19 remaining in the ball game. Nic Moore scored the final two points of the Mustangs' 6-0 run with a driving basket as the shot clock buzzer expired.

Before the run, the Coogs had made 10 of 13 field goals in the half.

With 4 seconds left, the Coogs pulled within five points (73-68); but, it was too little too late.

House scored a team-high 22 points in 27 minutes off the bench. TaShawn Thomas scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. Danrad Knowles scored eight points in his 10 minutes in the game.

"We're still trying to work some guys in," Coach Dickey said. "I wanted to try to take some pressure off of Danrad (Knowles). I wanted him to relax. He came in and played well."

The Coogs next two games are on the road: January 30 at Connecticut (8pm tip on CBS SN) and February 1 at Rutgers (3:30 pm tip on ESPNews).

CLICK HERE for The HRR's write-ups of Coogs' men's hoops games.

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