Lute Olson decided to bench seniors Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers for the first 10:00 of the first half after the two players were late to a team meal. With the two senior leaders on the bench the Cougars took advantage and jumped out to a 20-4 lead.
Adams was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats. He played the last 12:00 of the game with four fouls, but led the Wildcats with 21 points.
As good as Adams was, he was over shadowed by hot shooting Oliver Lafayette. The Cougar guard nailed 7-of-11 three point field goals and hit a free throw and grabbed a crucial offensive rebound to ice the game.
Lafayette finished with 28 points. He and Jamar Thorpe were the lone Cougars in double figures.
All told the Cougars hit 11 three pointers and forced 21 turnovers.
Arizona is used to dictating the pace, but looked a step slow against a Houston team that likes to play in fifth gear all day long. Arizona seemed to scramble to keep up with the quick Cougars and seemed out of sorts all game long.
To make matters worse the Wildcats continued to shoot poorly. They shot just 35% from the field and made just 6-of-20 three pointers.
With Adams and Rodgers on the bench it was all Houston early on. The Cougars raced out to a 20-4 lead and the fans began the "overrated" chant early on.
The Wildcats decided to show the fans that they were a little premature with the chant. Olson inserted Adams and Rodgers into the game and the two seniors sparked the Wildcats to a 22-9 run to close out the half.
After a Thorpe three pointer the Cougars went the final 5:01 of the half without scoring a single point.
During the run Adams scored nine points and Mustafa Shakur added two late field goals and the Wildcats trailed by just two going into the break.
Arizona started slow again in the second half. The Wildcats had a couple of chances to tie the game but failed to convert. The Cougars then ran out to a 17-7 run and led by as many as 18 points before a late rally by the Wildcats.
The Cats trailed by 12 with 1:30 to play, but a 10-2 run, including two three pointers by Adams and Radenovic, got the Wildcats within three. Lafayette iced the game with a late free throw and then grabbed an offensive rebound off of a miss and ran more time off the clock before being fouled.
He missed his final two free throws but the Wildcats turned over the ball before they could get a final shot off.