Houston beats Top 25 team for first time since '96

HOUSTON (AP) -- Andre Owens made up for a subpar game with his
best effort of the season.

Owens scored 27 points, including a 3-pointer for the go-ahead
basket with 21 seconds left, leading Houston to a 70-67 upset over
Louisville (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) on Wednesday night.

Owens, who was averaging nearly 18 points a game, managed only
four last Wednesday in Houston's 93-80 loss to Texas A&M.

"I had a poor game at Texas A&M and this week was the hardest
I've ever worked," Owens said. "Coach had gotten in my face about
how I played the previous game, so I knew I had to step up. We were
running the stairs all week long."

It paid off as Owens scored 18 in the first half. Then, when
Houston needed it most, Owens knew he could score the go-ahead

"I told Lanny (Smith) to look for me and I'll make it for
you," Owens said. "I wanted the ball and I knew I could make it
happen. I think we've showed that we can beat anybody at home.
After two tough road defeats and people questioning our toughness,
I was so proud over what happened."

Houston's Rodney Hannah had 16 rebounds, five more than he had
totaled all season.

"The two early tip-ins really energized me," Hannah said. "A
lot of people thought we had to get mentally tougher, but we knew
we were tough enough."

Coach Tom Penders coached Houston's first win over a Top 25 team
since beating then-No. 25 Tulsa on Dec. 4, 1996.

"It was a great step for us," said Penders, whose 9-3 record
already equals the numbers of wins at Houston last season.

"We were fresh off two road defeats and people were questioning
our toughness," he said. "Louisville is a Top 5 program no matter
what the rankings, and a win tonight was big for us. We're a young
team learning a new system so this is the next step for us."

Freshman Juan Palacios had 20 points for Louisville, which lost
to Houston for the first time in nine meetings. The Cougars last
win over the Cardinals was Feb. 21, 1993, but coach Rick Pitino had
no excuses.

"They made big shots down the stretch," Pitino said. "You've
got to give them credit."

Francisco Garcia hit a 15-foot jumper with 34 seconds remaining
for a 67-65 Louisville lead. But Owens hit his 3 and Garcia was
then called for a charge on the other end.

"It was a charge," Pitino said. "We talked about it, that
they were going to try to (take a charge). Blocking out and
turnovers were our Achilles' heels. We're small and fundamentally
not a good block-out team."

Down by as many as eight in the early minutes of the second
half, Louisville narrowed it to 58-57 on a 3-pointer by Palacios
with 3:13 to play. Brandon Jenkins' 3-pointer with 2:09 then tied
it at 60 and two free throws by Larry O'Bannon gave the Cardinals a
62-60 lead with 2:03 to play.

Palacios hit a 3 with 1:45 left for a 65-62 lead, but Owens
answered with a 3 to tie it again with 1:04 left.

Starting guard Taquan Dean, who averages 15.7 points, failed to
score for Louisville, which ended a five-game win streak. He missed
the Cardinals' last game with back spasms, was bothered by them
again Wednesday and played only 17 minutes -- none in the second

After five ties and four lead changes in the first 12 minutes,
Louisville went on a 7-0 run to take a 21-16 lead with 6:29 to play
in the first half. The Cardinals hit five 3s in the opening 13

Houston, which missed 22 of its first 28 shots for 21 percent
shooting, stayed alive by making six steals as Louisville had nine
turnovers the first 14 minutes.

The Cougars then went on a 9-3 run, capped by Owens' 3-pointer,
to take a 30-27 lead with 2:03 left in the first half.

Owens had 18 points, including the Cougars' last seven, as
Houston led 34-30 at halftime.