Keith Williams came alive in the second-half to lead the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team to a 64-62 win over the No. 21 University of Houston Cougars Saturday evening inside a sold-out Fifth Third Arena.
The 6-foot-5 junior guard scored 10 of his 12 points in the final twenty minutes, including four clutch free throws in the final three minutes.
The Bearcats fell behind 53-38 with 13 minutes left before embarking on a 18-2 run. The Cougars made one field goal over the final 11 minutes and shot 25% in the second-half.
"[The crowd] gave us a huge lift," UC center Chris Vogt said. "I thought there was times where we were getting tired on defense and that kind of gave us a second wind — hearing the crowd behind us. I could tell with the other team, all the noise was adding confusion."
Vogt dealt with foul trouble for most of the night and fouled out with nine seconds left. He finished with 10 points and five blocks.
It was the Bearcats' second win over a ranked opponent this season after defeating then-No. 21 Tennessee in December.
UC senior guard Jarron Cumberland provided 13 points in the first-half, but shot 0 of 4 in the second-half. His sole contribution to the comeback was going 4 of 8 from the free-throw line. However, he accounted for five assists and three rebounds during that span.
Cumberland also passed Louis Banks to move into ninth on UC's all-time scoring list in the second-half.
Bearcat senior forward Trevon Scott backed up Cumberland with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Houston freshman guard Marcus Sasser came out aggressive in the first-half, connecting on 4 of 4 shots for 11 points before picking up a second foul and heading to the bench. He added six points in the final twenty minutes to finish with a team-high 17 points.
With UC ahead 64-62 with nine seconds left, Houston forward Brison Gresham missed the second of two free throws. The Cougars secured the rebound and the ball wound up in the hands of guard Caleb Mills, who was 3 of 19 shooting up to that point.
Mills created separation to get a clean look, but his last-second jump-shot fell short.
"When the buzzer went off, it was a big relief," Scott said. "I feel like we're getting back to where we all thought we would be from the beginning, so it was a big sigh of relief for us.
Houston was without junior guard Dejon Jarreau for the final six minutes, as he was ejected after a flagrant 2 technical foul. A member of the UC Athletics Communications staff said Jarreau bit UC forward Mamoudou Diarra while on the ground after diving for a loose ball.
UC head coach John Brannen said the incident didn't disrupt his game-plan.
"All I was thinking about was what we were going to run when we took the ball out," Brannen said.
The Bearcats (14-7, 7-2 American Athletic Conference) hit the road to face No. 23 Wichita State Thursday evening. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Charles Koch Arena.
With Wichita State's loss to Tulsa Saturday, UC moves into a tie with Houston atop the AAC standings.