HOUSTON (Ticker) -- In a game lacking finesse, the brute force of Jason Maxiell pushed Cincinnati past Houston.
Maxiell bulled to 10 of his 14 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes as the 10th-ranked Bearcats rallied for a 54-51 Conference USA victory over the Cougars.
Cincinnati (16-3, 7-2 C-USA) ended a two-game slide and continued its dominance of Houston (8-12, 2-7). The Bearcats have won nine in a row from the Cougars and are 21-1 all-time, with their lone loss coming in 1973.
With both teams shooting poorly and Houston wary of Cincinnati's tempo-changing press defense, the game became a walk-it-up affair with plenty of half-court offense but not much scoring.
The Cougars shot under 35 percent (18-of-52) from the field and matched their third-lowest point total of the season while the Bearcats shot 32 percent (18-of-56) and were held to a season low.
Houston led for much of the second half and held a 44-42 edge before the 6-7, 250-pound Maxiell - a native of Carrollton - tied it with a driving layup with 5:22 to go.
A two-handed dunk and a pair of free throws by Maxiell gave Cincinnati a 50-46 lead with 2:59 to go.
A 3-pointer by Andre Owens and driving layup by Marcus Oliver around two missed free throws by Maxiell gave the Cougars their last lead with 1:52 remaining. Maxiell promptly erased that with a thunderous follow slam 24 seconds later.
Owens missed shots on Houston's next two possessions. Maxiell rebounded the second miss and sank two free throws for a 54-51 lead with 8.9 seconds left, and Ramon Dyer's desperation 3-pointer did not hit the rim.
Robert Whaley scored a season-high 17 points for the Bearcats, who survived 11 missed 3-pointers, nine missed free throws and a 44-36 deficit on the backboards.
Owens scored 18 points for the Cougars, who were coming off a triple-overtime home loss to Southern Mississippi and have dropped five of six.