HOUSTON — After trailing by 15 points, then by eight, USF kept coming back to give Houston a game.
But one last Cougars run was too much for the Bulls to overcome.
Danuel House had 17 points and nine rebounds as Houston used a late run to seal a 78-69 win over USF Tuesday to extend the Cougars' win streak to four games.
The Bulls (12-18, 3-14 American Athletic Conference) lost their season-high seventh straight.
L.J. Rose added 16 points and Jherrod Stiggers chipped in 15 for the Cougars (16-14, 8-9). Houston shot 55 percent, including 12 of 23 3-pointers, and made 12 of 14 free throws.
Victor Rudd had 25 points and Martino Brock scored 19 for the Bulls, who are tied for the worst league record along with Temple, which USF faces at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Sun Dome, and UCF.
Houston clinched the sixth seed in the conference tournament, March 12-15 in Memphis, and a first-round bye with one game left, Friday at UCF.
The Bulls hit 48 percent from the field but struggled from behind the arc (1 of 9) and made 12 of 24 free throws.
"Two things," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "We couldn't stop them from 3, and we didn't do a good job at the free-throw line. We needed to do a better job in those two areas. But we're playing hard, we just don't have the wins to show for it."
With the score tied at 59, Rose hit a jumper to start a 15-3 spurt, capped by two Stiggers free throws with 52 seconds left. Rose had five points in the deciding run.
Houston led by 15 early in the second half but USF answered with a 12-0 run capped by Brock's jumper with 10:47 to go to get within 51-48.
The Cougars then led by eight, but USF responded once more with an 8-0 run to tie it at 59 on John Egbunu's layup with 5:33 left.