TULSA, Okla. -- National scoring leader Aubrey Coleman had 27 points and Maurice McNeil had two critical offensive rebounds down the stretch as Houston held off Southern Miss 74-66 Friday night to advance to the Conference USA championship game.
McNeil was fouled after each of his rebounds on back-to-back possessions for the seventh-seeded Cougars (18-15) after Southern Miss cut a seven-point deficit to two in the final three minutes. He converted three of his four foul shots to give Houston just enough cushion to hold on.
Coleman, who averages 25.9 points, had a steal and five free throws in the final minute to clinch it for the Cougars.
Houston, the only team to defeat regular season champion UTEP during conference play, will face the top-seeded Miners again in the finals Saturday.
Gary Flowers led Southern Miss (20-13) with 24 points and 10 rebounds.