HOUSTON (AP) – Morris Almond scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half as Rice overcame a 24-point Houston lead in the final 15 minutes for a 76-71 win Wednesday night in front of 2,389 fans at Rice’s Autry Court. Almond also grabbed 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season and ninth in his career. The Owls outscored Houston 52 to 29 in the second half.
The Cougars (6-9, 1-2 Conference USA) led 55-31 after Dion Dowell's 3-pointer with exactly 15 minutes remaining. Rice then went on a 37-12 run over the next 12:36 to take a 68-67 lead on Chris Hagan's steal and layup off an inbounds pass with 2:24 left.
Robert McKiver hit two free throws to give Houston a 69-68 lead. But the Owls (9-7, 3-0) responded with six straight points for the victory as Almond made two free throws with 1:06 left for a 70-69 Rice lead and Lorenzo Williams hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining for a 73-69 Owl lead after Dowell missed two free throws.
Almond then made three of four free throws in the final 19 seconds. He hit 18 of 20 free throws for the game to tie his own Rice and C-USA record for most free throws made in a game.
The Cougars used runs of 11-0 and 14-0 in the first half, helping them open a 42-24 lead at halftime.
Houston made 8 of 18 3-point attempts in the first half with McKiver connecting on four of nine attempts.
McKiver led Houston with 21 points. Oliver Lafayette added 15 and Jahmar Thorpe and Dowell each scored 11 for the Cougars.
Paulius Packevicius scored a ca