Quentin Grimes scored 22 points and DeJon Jarreau came up with a critical tip-in in the closing seconds, leading No. 20 Houston to a 62-58 win over host South Florida Wednesday night in Tampa.
Laquincy Rideau's 21 points led South Florida, which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
The Cougars (20-5, 10-2 AAC) stayed in first place in the American Athletic Conference with their third straight win and eighth in the past nine games. They outscored the Bulls 17-2 in second-chance points, but had to fight off a comeback attempt late in the second half.
The Cougars were in control early in the second half after a tight first 20 minutes. A five-point halftime lead turned into an 11-point lead on Nate Hinton's 3-pointer with 12:10 to play, making the score 43-32.
Marcus Sasser made four straight free throws to keep Houston comfortably in front, but South Florida (11-13, 4-7) made a run. A 3 from Rideau made it 47-42 with 7:06 to play.
Then David Collins switched hands in mid-air for a layup with 4:37 left to make it 49-46.
Justin Brown made it 53-51 on a 3 with 3:03, but Grimes answered for the Cougars 30 seconds later.
South Florida had two chances to tie in the final 90 seconds, but missed shots both times. Jarreau put in his own missed layup with 21 seconds left, giving the Cougars a decisive 58-53 lead.
Four Grimes free throws in the final nine seconds sealed Houston's win.
The Bulls hung tough in the first half, helped by making 10 of 14 free throws. They never held a led in either half, but rallied from a 10-point deficit to make it 24-23 with 3:59 to play.
Rideau made jumper and a fastbreak layup during South Florida's 9-0 run.
--Field Level Media