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Houston Cougars comeback and defeat UTEP in Overtime

POSTED: January 28, 2012 -- 11:59 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Cougars lived up to a cliche Saturday night: 'Refuse to Lose'. The Coogs erased a 15 point first half lead; and, double-digit deficits in the second half to defeat the UTEP Miners 81-76 in an overtime thriller.

"I'm so proud of our team and the way that they competed," said UH head coach James Dickey. "They really battled. I'm really proud of them. I want to thank the fans, the students. I thought they were terrific and helped us."

Jonathon Simmons (Wild Thing) scored a game-high 25 points -- including a three-point play to give the Cougars the lead for good (77-76) in the extra five minutes.

"Alandise set a good screen," Simmons said. "I got open. Players just gotta make plays. We were down two; and, I just had to make play."

Freshman TaShawn Thomas added 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocked shots while sophomore forward Alandise Harris scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds

The Cougars (11-9 overall, 3-4 in Conference USA) struggled to make shots in the first half (9 for 26 from the field); but, the shots were good shots.

The Miners (10-11, 3-4) were very patient on offense in the first half and methodically worked in the half court and executed their offense very efficiently. The Miners shot 60.9% (14 for 23) in the opening 20 minutes.

Though the Miners enjoyed a double-dight lead in the second half, the Cougars never allowed their deficit to extend to 20 points; and, they slowly chipped away at the Miners' lead.

Houston trailed 58-47 with less than six minutes remaining in the second half; but, TaShawn Thomas converted a three-point play to begin a 6-0 run which sparked his teammates and the crowd.

Simmons scored a driving layup to trim the margin to five points (60-55); but, freshman Julian Washburn swished a three-point shot only to see the Cougars, once again, mount a comeback. This time, the Cougars comeback resulted in a one point lead thanks to a 9-0 run capped off by Alandise Harris' putback basket.

With 13.5 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied at 66, the Miners had the ball; and, Joseph Young played great defense on Jacque Streeter. Streeter attempted to drive past Young into the paint; but, Young forced Streeter to pass the ball to the perimeter and teammate C.J. Cooper launched a shot right as the game clock expired. The shot went in; but, the refs checked the video and decided the basket should not count.

Simmons said matter-of-factly, "I knew it was late."

The game went to overtime tied at 66. UTEP led by four points (74-70) in the extra session; but, TaShawn Thomas and Alandise Harris scored to trim UTEP's lead to 76-74. The Miners failed to score on their possession; and Jonathan Simmons scored the game-winning three points off an inbounds play.

"With the refs saying the shot was late, we knew the game was ours; so, let's buckle down an finish it," Thomas said.

The Cougars next C-USA game is Wednesday, February 1, on the road versus UAB. Tip is set for 8pm.

CLICK HERE for news and info about the Coogs' men's basketball team.

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

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