- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Following its 39-point defeat at the hands of Louisville Thursday, Houston wanted to put that game in the past quickly.

The Cougars did just that against Rutgers.

Danrad Knowles had 16 points and eight rebounds as Houston used a huge second half to pull away from Rutgers for a 77-55 win Sunday.

Knowles had 11 points in the second half as the Cougars used a 22-3 run over a 7 ½ minute stretch in the second half to pull away.

Danuel House added 14 points, Brandon Morris and TaShawn Thomas each had 12 points, and Jherrod Stiggers scored 11 for Houston (11-7, 3-2 American). The Cougars shot 50 percent from the field and connected on 11 of 25 from behind the arc in snapping a two-game losing streak.

Houston coach James Dickey said after the Louisville game, it would have been easy for the Cougars to hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves, but they responded positively instead.

House said it was important to get the bounce back win in the conference.

“We have played Louisville and Rutgers, so we saw how we lost,” House said. “We saw that we didn’t match everyone’s intensity. This win shows that we need to practice harder and bring the same intensity into every game because we went up there and didn’t bring the same intensity, so we ended up losing.”

Myles Mack led Rutgers (8-10, 2-3) with 15 points, and Kadeem Jack added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 31 percent from the field, including 24 percent in the second half in dropping their third in the last four games.

Rutgers held a 23-5 advantage on the offensive boards that led to a 16-4 edge on second chance points.

“We just didn’t play well,” Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. “We thought coming in that to win this game, everybody needed to play well, but it was just the opposite that happened.”

Rutgers used a 10-0 run to take a 38-37 lead on a Jack layup with 15:55 left. Mack scored six points in the run, and Jack had the other four.

But after taking the lead, Rutgers went 4 ½ minutes without a field goal, missing nine straight from the field and hitting one free throw. Over a 7 ½ minute span of the second half, the Knights had one field goal and three points as the Cougars turned a one-point deficit into an 18-point lead in a 22-3 run that opened up a 59-41 Houston advantage with 8:44 to go.

“Before the run started, we had a timeout and me and Danuel were talking, and we knew we had to increase the intensity and go hard,” Stiggers said. “The first chance we got, we took it and ran with it.”

The Cougars scored 11 straight points to regain a 10-point lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Stiggers and House with 13:07 remaining.

“We talked about energy on the defensive end,” Dickey said. “When we defend and get multiple stops and get out there on the break or into our offense quickly, our offense moves the ball and makes them defend, and we are a better basketball team.”

Jack’s lay-up with 11:25 remaining cut the Cougars’ lead to 48-41, but that would be as close as the Knights would get.

“Our defense generated some of our offense,” Jordan said. “We got out. Myles got out and got some steals. Wally (Judge) was good getting stops at the rim. Kadeem was coming over to help. We got out, and then, we got back into the open floor, and when it was time to run the half-court offense, we didn’t do enough. Credit their defense, and we didn’t have enough ball movement and enough trust in the offense to build on what we started.”

Houston opened up a 10-point lead several times in the first half, including with 4:03 left in the half on a three-point play by Thomas.

The Cougars led 35-28 at the half, shooting 46 percent from the field, including hitting 6 of 12 from behind the arc.

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