Rob Gray scored 20 points and Houston held UConn to 12 first-half points in a 62-46 victory on Wednesday.
Danrad Knowles and Damyean Dotson each added 10 points for the Cougars (10-3), who never trailed in the American Athletic Conference opener for both schools. Houston dominated in the paint, outscoring UConn 26-12.
"I thought we were very organized and very prepared," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We were coming off a loss we didn't feel very good about, so I knew we were going to bounce back and play well."
Christian Vital led UConn (5-7) with 15 points, while Vance Jackson and Rodney Purvis each had 12. For the second time this season, the Huskies were held without a block as 7-foot center Amida Brimah played just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
The Huskies were just 3-for-21 shooting from the field in the first half to go with nine turnovers and just one assist. UConn shot 33.3 percent overall and had just four turnovers in the second half, but trailed throughout by double digits.
"We had a bad shooting half and couldn't get out of our own way," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said.
The Cougars reeled off an 11-0 stretch to move ahead 16-5 as the Huskies failed to make a basket for over eight minutes. Houston closed out the half with a 15-1 run for a 36-12 lead. The Cougars made 14 of 26 shots and all six scorers shot at least 50 percent. Gray led the way with 10 points.
"I just thought a lack of effort was there and it was just a bad defensive effort," Ollie said.
Houston: Coach Kelvin Sampson is 7-3 all-time against the Huskies with wins over them while at Houston (3-1), Indiana (1-1) and Oklahoma (3-1).
UConn: The Huskies played with only seven scholarship players as starting point guard Jalen Adams (concussion) was out of the lineup. Adams suffered his injury last Friday against Auburn.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Brimah led the AAC in blocks (3.0 per game) and UConn was tied for second with Temple in blocks (5.8), but they managed none against the Cougars. "Our rule today is we did an edit on just how many shots Brimah blocked," Sampson said. "I think I scared the bejesus out of them from going in and shooting over him."
The Cougars are the top team in the conference in 3-point shooting (.434), but relied on their inside game to beat the Huskies. Houston, which was just 5 for 20 on 3-pointers, held a 26-12 edge in points in the paint. UConn tied for its fewest points in the paint this season.
Houston: The Cougars continue their road swing in the AAC with a stop on Saturday at South Florida before returning home to host two straight.
UConn: The Huskies hit the road for their next two conference games, starting with Tulsa on Saturday.