HOUSTON — In his first game back since sports hernia surgery, Keith Hornsby did everything he could to will the LSU basketball team to a win Sunday.
So did fellow guard Tim Quarterman.
But in the end, their career-best offensive performances weren’t enough to overcome LSU’s shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass.
Those issues came together once again and were key factors in LSU’s 105-98 loss to Houston before a paid crowd of 7,918 fans — many of them wearing purple and gold — in Hofheinz Pavilion.
The setback was the fourth in five games for the Tigers, who gave up 100-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1990. In its last outing before final exams Dec. 2, LSU outlasted North Florida for a 119-108 victory.
“It’s tough to win games giving up 100 points, and that’s what we did,” coach Johnny Jones said. “We scored enough to win; we just didn’t do the job on the defensive end.”
Unlike the North Florida game, LSU (4-4) didn’t come all the way back in the second half even though Hornsby gave his team an opportunity when he buried a high-arcing 3-point shot over the outstretched arms of two defenders with 5.5 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Playing for the first time since having surgery Nov. 3, Hornsby poured in a career-high 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-10 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also knocked down 6-of-7 free-throw attempts.
“It was a good offensive night for me, but I’m not going to be happy when we lose,” he said. “There are a couple of things I didn’t do very well offensively, and those are sticking in my mind.
“One of those is rebounding,” he added. “I wanted to be able to help with that, and I didn’t think I did that.”
Quarterman came off the bench for the first time this season after Jones said he dealt with some “issues” last week and tied his career high with 27 points. He also had 10 rebounds and six assists in 41 minutes.
Despite their efforts, Houston (6-1) outscored LSU 21-14 in the five-minute overtime period. The Cougars never trailed in the extra session after the lead changed hands eight times with eight ties in regulation.
Both teams played overtime without a key player.
LSU forward Ben Simmons fouled out with 2:41 to play in regulation after picking up his fourth and fifth personals in a span of 34 seconds — one on a controversial call. Simmons left with 13 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals in 35 minutes — and his team trailing 78-77.
On the fourth foul, Simmons appeared to be in position to take a charge from guard Galen Robinson on his way to the basket with the scored tied at 75.
But Simmons was called for the foul and then went to the bench a half-minute after he was whistled for a charge.
“I just think that maybe their guys overreacted a little bit,” Jones said of the two calls against Simmons. “They were tough calls. But they were made, and we have to make sure we’re able to adjust.”
Houston center Danrad Knowles, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, was disqualified with 49.5 seconds left and his team holding an 80-79 lead.
While giving up 21 points in overtime was the deciding factor, Jones pointed to several other big numbers that did his team in.
Houston held a 46-33 rebounding edge against LSU, and the Cougars scored 50 points in the paint to the Tigers’ 42. Houston also used 17 offensive rebounds to score 20 second-chance points to LSU’s eight.
Guard Rob Gray scored 31 points to lead Houston, while three fellow guards — Robinson, Ronnie Johnson and Damyean Dotson — combined for 31 more.
“They made plays getting to the rim, and we did not do a great job of protecting or staying down and handling or containing them,” Jones said. “Our post guys did not do a great job of hedging or stepping up and shoring up to slow their guys down so our guards could recover.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.