After leading for a majority of the game, the Bearcats failed to close out first place Houston and eventually suffered a 75-69 loss on Saturday afternoon at the Fertitta Center.
Second-year head coach Wes Miller was hoping to celebrate his 40th birthday with a huge win over the Cougars and a quick start fueled Cincinnati to an impressive first half.
Landers Nolley II knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to take an early lead and Mika Adams-Woods drilled a halfcourt shot at the buzzer and give the Bearcats a 43-36 lead at halftime.
Even though it appeared Cincinnati was in position to secure a season-defining win, Houston was able to stay within striking distance and survive with a sixth straight win in the series.
Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats give up late run in 75-69 road loss against Houston
David DeJulius connected on a clutch triple to tie the game with less than a minute remaining but Cougars senior guard Jamal Shead answered with a jumper to regain the lead.
It was another disappointing loss for the Bearcats after leading by as much as 13 points in the opening half before allowing Houston to go on a 26-9 run to close the game.
Despite dealing with a lower-body injury, Nolley was spectacular in the loss. The senior forward finished with a team-high 24 points and six rebounds including 6/10 from 3-point range.
Cincinnati will return to action against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Wednesday with a chance to improve to 15-8 and move up in the AAC standings after suffering back to back losses.