HOUSTON (AP) -- Oliver Lafayette scored 28 points and Houston
recorded its second straight upset of a Top 25 team, beating
Arizona (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) 69-65 on Saturday night.
Jahmar Thorpe added 13 points and Lanny Smith had 11 assists for
the Cougars (3-1), who beat No. 25 LSU 84-83 on Tuesday. The
Wildcats (2-3) were the highest-ranked team to lose to Houston
since the Cougars upset third-ranked Memphis 69-67 in 1996.
Hassan Adams came back from an early benching to score 21 for
the sloppy Wildcats, who committed 21 turnovers and shot 35 percent
(22 of 63).
Arizona trailed by 15 in the second half, then surged back
within 68-65 heading into the final seconds.
Lafayette hit a free throw with 8.6 seconds left to push the
lead to four. He missed the second one, then stole the ball from
Ivan Radenovic and got fouled again with 5 seconds left.
Lafayette missed, but Adams dribbled the ball off his foot in
the closing seconds.
As the buzzer sounded, the crowd spilled onto
the court, celebrating Houston's biggest victory since a 70-66 win
over 16th-ranked Louisville last January.
The quicker, more energetic Cougars opened the game with a 20-4
run, fueling its home-court advantage at Hofheinz Pavilion with dunks,
defense and 3-point shooting.
Ramon Dyer set the tone immediately, grabbing a steal and
driving for a two-handed dunk 18 seconds after the opening tip.
The Wildcats were awful offensively at the start, missing 16 of
their first 17 shots and committing nine turnovers in the first 10
minutes. They were also short-handed -- Coach Lute Olsen benched
Adams and Chris Rodgers after they showed up late for a pre-game
Both stars were in the game by the midpoint of the half, and
Adams' fast-break layup with 7:46 left cut Houston's lead to 24-11.
Thorpe answered 10 seconds later with the Cougars' fourth dunk,
setting off the home crowd again.
The Wildcats slowed down the pace to get back into it, finishing
the half with an 18-3 run. Adams had nine at halftime on 4-of-8
The Cougars hit 10 of their first 17 shots -- five of them
3-pointers -- then missed eight of their final nine shots before the
Smith dunked and Lafayette sank a 3-pointer to open the second
half, re-energizing the fans that Arizona had quieted.
Houston's lead slipped back into double digits as Arizona got
careless again, committing seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes
after halftime. Lafayette swished two 3-pointers from the wing and
Dyer hit a reverse layup to put the Cougars up 54-39 and trigger
chants of "Overrated!"
The Cougars seemed to have the game in hand after Lafayette hit
a pull-up jumper over a double-team with 2:30 left and Smith found
Thorpe open for a dunk with 2:07 to go, pushing the lead to 10.
Adams had a fast-break layup, Mustafa Shakur sank two free
throws and Radenovic hit a 3-pointer over the next 90 seconds to
pull the Wildcats within three and set up the dramatic finish.