With its unbeaten conference mark on perilous footing, Memphis stood tall and fought back.
Two trademarks of the Tigers' resurgence were again on full display, as Adonis Thomas scored 22 points and D.J. Stephens added 14 points and 10 rebounds in No. 21 Memphis' 81-74 victory over Houston.
Memphis used a 26-11 scoring stretch to break open a tie game about midway through the second half and held off another Houston rally late. Tarik Black donated 15 points and Chris Crawford posted 11 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for the Tigers (23-3, 12-0 C-USA), who won their 19th straight conference contest.
Joseph Young scored 22 points and TaShawn Thomas added 20 for Houston (15-10, 4-8), which dropped its second straight game.
"We were careless with the ball in the first half, and you can't do that on the road in a conference game," Houston coach James Dickey admitted.
The Cougars maintained some of their momentum coming out of the half, scoring eight of 10 points at one point to square the contest at 39-39 on Daniel House's jumper. After another House bucket knotted the game at 41-41, Memphis scored eight quick points in succession capped by Black's layup and two Geron Johnson foul shots.
Memphis continued its roll, extending the lead to 63-49 on Joe Jackson's layup and pushing it to 15 points just under the eight-minute mark.
Houston fought back and closed within 75-69 on TaShawn Thomas' slam with just under a minute to go, but Memphis made its foul shots down the stretch to hold on.
"We didn't play as well as I would have liked, but we found a way to win," Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said.
Houston jumped out to a 7-4 advantage on TaShawn Thomas' tip-in, and the two teams went back-and-forth before the Tigers embarked on an 13-point flurry to take a double-digit lead.
Adonis Thomas scored four quick points to trigger the stretch, and Crawford connected from long range to put the home team in a comfortable position at 25-15.
Houston never let the margin grow beyond 10 and actually chipped away to within 33-28 on Jherrod Stiggers' 3-pointer with just under a minute to go. Adonis Thomas' tip-in just before the buzzer gave the Tigers a 35-28 edge heading into the locker room.
Jackson scored 11 points with six assists, while Adonis Thomas pulled down eight rebounds in the win ... House scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the loss ... The Tigers hold a 27-12 edge in the all-time series ... Houston made 46.6 percent from the floor, but only 15-of-24 from the charity stripe ... Memphis made 53.6 percent of its shots on the game.