HOUSTON -- Scoring against Cincinnati is no easy task.
Kyle Washington had 19 points and nine rebounds as the 22nd-ranked Bearcats extended their winning streak to six games Saturday night with a 67-58 victory over Houston.
Troy Caupain added 13 points, Jacob Evans had 12 and Gary Clark chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds. Cincinnati (13-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) shot only 39 percent but hit 10 of 24 from 3-point range.
"I thought our defense was obviously excellent and carried us tonight," coach Mick Cronin said. "We didn't play great on offense, but didn't turn the ball over for layups. . At the end of the day, we got enough stops and rebounds and that was big."
The Bearcats, who entered ranked among the nation's leaders in field goal percentage defense, blocks and scoring defense, made it tough for Houston to get much going.
"We're known for getting stops and playing solid on defense," Caupain said. "If we don't play solid on defense, they could have easily scored 75 or 80 points. We tried to do what we had to do -- play solid and rebound."
The Bearcats used an 11-2 run over a three-minute stretch to take a 50-36 lead on two free throws by Kevin Johnson with 12:13 left. Washington had six points during the spurt.
Houston (12-4, 3-1) got no closer than six the rest of the way.
"We played with great confidence and poise," Cronin said. "We believed we were going to win. We played with confidence. We never hung our heads when they made a run at us."
Rob Gray, who missed Wednesday's win with the flu, led the Cougars with 21 points but was 0 for 7 on 3s. Wes VanBeck had 11 points and Damyean Dotson added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, which never led. The Cougars shot 37 percent and just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.
"It seemed like we were playing uphill all night," coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought they shot the ball well, especially in key possessions."
The Bearcats led 23-11 with 9:36 remaining in the first half after a 3 by Evans, but Houston outscored Cincinnati 14-7 to close the period and cut the margin to five. Evans had nine points in the half to lead Cincinnati.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats were challenged by Houston, but withstood every Cougars run. Cincinnati forced nine turnovers and scored 12 points off them, and the Bearcats outrebounded Houston 43-39, leading to a 14-9 edge in second-chance points. Cincinnati will need more production from its bench, which managed only two points.
Houston: For the third time this season, the Cougars missed a chance to pick up a marquee win. Houston also dropped games at LSU and Arkansas. ... The Cougars outscored Cincinnati 30-16 in the paint but will have to shoot better from behind the 3-point line.
The Bearcats will likely move up a couple of spots after teams ahead of them lost.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats had eight blocks, three by Clark. . Cincinnati shot 13 of 21 from the free throw line. . Cincinnati had 15 assists on its 22 field goals. ... The Bearcats have allowed 60 points or fewer in three of their last four games.
Houston: F Devin Davis missed his second straight game with a foot injury. He has sat out seven of the last eight. . Sampson was issued a technical foul with 12:13 left. . Gray has only one other game this season in which he did not make a 3-pointer: Nov. 26 against Cornell when he was 0 for 1.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats host SMU on Thursday before traveling to East Carolina next weekend.
Houston: The Cougars visit East Carolina on Wednesday and Central Florida next Saturday.
Still have some money left from a tough opening weekend for the betting public? Here are our experts' best Sweet 16 bets for all eight NCAA tourney games on Thursday and Friday.
Washington has released Blake Harris from his commitment after the school's decision to fire coach Lorenzo Romar.
With several national titles and many of the game's greats, both UCLA and Kentucky can make claim to being among college basketball's greatest programs.