Kirk Van Slyke tossed in 19 points to lead five players in double figures as Houston and former Razorback assistant coach James Dickey roared out of the halftime locker room and ended up holding off the hosts 87-78 at Verizon Arena.
"I'm proud of our guys," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "They had a chance to fold their tent, but they scratched and clawed and gave themselves a chance. I thought the crowd was absolutely awesome. This team here has been through a lot the last 24 to 48 hours.
"When you lose one of your better players, that's an adjustment," Anderson added. "I thought our guys were still in kind of a state of shock, played on a lot of emotion, but just couldn't get the job done."
Arkansas had cut a 59-44 deficit to 72-68 with just over four minutes left, but didn't have enough left to finish.
"I thought down the stretch when the Hogs made a run at us that he came back in and helped us," Dickey said. "He had been in foul trouble and came off the bench - he had been sitting there for awhile and made some huge plays down the stretch. He had a great follow dunk and a great rebound and out back and got some free throws. He is a terrific young man and I am proud to be his coach."
Julysess Nobles led Arkansas (2-1) with 17 points while B.J. Young added 15, Rashard Madden 13 and Michael Sanchez 11, but the Razorbacks could not hold a 34-28 lead late in the first half.
The Cougars (3-0) - who took over the game with a 35-13 run - tied the game at 36-36 by intermission and then scored 23 of the next 31 points.
Van Slyke's old-fashioned 3-point play had surged Houston ahead 59-44 with 13:01 left.
"We talked at halftime how we needed to get control of the game and the way we needed to do that is to slow down offensively," Dickey said. "We had 10 turnovers, were giving up too many second chance opportunities. I think they had 18 points off turnovers at halftime.
"They are good enough without helping them," Dickey added. "Even though we turned it over 10 times again in the second half, but I thought our defense was better. I thought our rebounding was better for the most part and I thought we finally got into a rythym."
Young helped lead Arkansas back and he got the Razorbacks within 69-63 on his drive to the bucket with 7:22 left in the game.
Nobles' steal and slam cut it to 72-68 with 4:17 left, but Houston got four points its next trip down the court and never led by less than six from that point on.
"It seemed like every time we needed a basket, we would make a run to get back in the game, but they'd get an offensive rebound or get a stick back and that's what you have got to do in order to win on the road," Anderson said. "You have got to be able to shoot the ball."
Houston shot 52.5 percent from the field, knocked down 7 of 16 3-pointers and 18-of-23 from the free throw line.
Jonathan Simmons added 16 points and , J.J, Thompson and Darren Thibodeaux 10 each and freshman post Tyshawn Thomas 7 points and 10 rebounds as the visitors had a 41-30 board advantage.
The Cougars had 20 turnovers (Harris had four of his six in the first few minutes) , but Arkansas turned it over 10 times itself and shot just 43.1 percent from the field, connected on just 4-of-17 3-pointers and 18-of-29 charity tosses.
Powell suffered what his coach called a severe knee injury in practice on Thursday when a teammate fell on his knee.
"It's at least a severe sprain," Anderson said. "We get an examination and know more Monday."
Dickey knows Powell's loss was a big one to Arkansas, but made sure his team did not concentrate on it too much.
"I found out for sure when I came to the arena tonight," Dickey said. "Somebody had texted me earlier in the day that had hard it, but not officially. Some source. But we never mentioned it to our team until we put the starters on the board."
"...Once we did tell them, we just said look "you can not relax because they are going to have somebody else step up and play big.'" Dickey said.
The Razorbacks have now lost three in a row in North Little Rock and 8 of their last 10 appearances in Central Arkansas.
Arkansas returns to action Tuesday night when it hosts Utah Valley State.
"We'll get back and get back to practice and now we are going to know that he is not going to be there, we can have some guys continue to improve," Anderson said.