For University of Houston forward TaShawn Thomas, it was all about perfect timing. In the waning seconds of Thursday's quarterfinal game of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament against No. 25 SMU, Thomas orchestrated the play of the game. In one of its most complete games of the season, Houston stunned SMU 68-64 at FedExFor-um, in large part because Thomas came through when it mattered most. With UH leading 64-61, Danuel House missed the front end of a one-and-one with 29 seconds remaining, keeping it a one-possession game. With 17 seconds left, SMU big man Cannen Cunningham penetrated to the basket, only to have his shot swatted by Thomas, with House coming up with the loose ball. After House sank two free throws to extend Houston's lead to 66-61, the Cougars completed the upset when SMU guard Nic Moore misfired on a 3-point attempt that fell into the waiting arms of L.J. Rose with 0.8 seconds remaining. With three victories over ranked teams this season (the Cougars also beat Connecticut and Memphis at home), UH has its most since the 1983-84 season, when it had seven. For the sixth-seeded Cougars (17-15), Thursday's win was a huge confidence builder as they prepare to take on defending national champion and No. 2 seed Louisville at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. UH entered the postseason having won four of its previous five and played the third-seeded Mustangs (23-9) tough despite being swept by SMU during the regular season. "I'm really proud of our guys," UH coach James Dickey said. "This is a really big win for us. I have a lot of respect for (SMU coach) Larry Brown and his staff. We didn't get to the foul line as much, but I thought our defense and rebounding were key in the first half. And when we have four guys (score) in double figures, that always helps." Jherrod Stiggers scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, Rose scored 16, Thomas had 14, and House added 11 for UH, which erased a 10-point deficit early in the second half. Cunningham's 14 points paced SMU.
Houston upsets SMU to reach American Athletic semifinals
Houston Chronicle | Mar 14