McNeil, Wade Lead Men's Basketball Past Rice in C-USA Opener

Jan. 6, 2010

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HOUSTON - Sophomore point guard Desmond Wade and junior forward Maurice McNeil each posted double-doubles to help lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to a resounding 83-66 win against Rice at Tudor Fieldhouse in the Conference USA opener for both teams.

Wade finished with 11 points and a game-high 10 assists with only two turnovers for the first double-double of his career, while McNeil added game highs of 23 points and six blocked shots with a team-high 13 rebounds for his second double-double of 2009-10.

That duo was just part of a solid, all-around effort by the Cougars, who saw four starters reach double digits. Senior guard Aubrey Coleman, who entered the game as the nation's leader in points and steals, finished with 22 points eight rebounds and a game-high four steals. Senior guard Kelvin Lewis added 18 points, including four 3-pointers with three rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 8-6 overall and 1-0 in C-USA games. It was the third straight season that Houston won its C-USA opener, a first in any conference since 1983-85.

Rice fell to 6-8 overall and 0-1 in league action.

The Cougars also won their seventh straight game against the Owls and enjoyed their biggest win on Rice's home court since a 71-36 victory on Jan. 10, 1987.

The two teams battled to a close game at halftime with the Cougars taking a 38-34 advantage into the locker room. The Owls batted to within a point early in the second half on Trey Stanton's 3-pointer at the 18:35 mark.

However, the Cougars used a 15-4 run during the next 4:44 to build a double-digit cushion and never led by fewer than 10 points the rest of the way. Lewis led the way with eight points during the rally, including a pair of treys that capped the Cougar scoring.

Following Lawrence Ghoram's field goal at the 15:37 mark, a staunch Cougar defense would allow the Owls only four field goals and seven free throws during the next 12:39. The steady defensive effort eventually helped the Cougars build a 77-54 lead late in the game.

Tamir Jackson led the Owls with 19 points, while Ghoram added 15 points. Stanton scored 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers, while Arsalan Kazemi pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Cougars return to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion to play host to a pair of Conference USA rivals. Houston meets Tulsa at 6 p.m., Saturday before facing UTEP at 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Fans can hear Saturday's game live on KTRH 740 AM, while Wednesday's game will be broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM. Tom Franklin, the Voice of the Cougars, will call the play-by-play action for both games.

The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tip-off for each game.

Fans can purchase basketball tickets on-line at UHCougars.com by clicking the Tickets link, by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Single-game tickets and a variety of packages also are available now and can be purchased for as low as $35.

* Houston improved to 56-14 in the all-time series against Rice... The Cougars have won their last seven games against the Owls and have not lost to Rice since Jan. 17, 2007.
* Wednesday's win was the Cougars' biggest road victory at Rice since a 71-36 decision on Jan. 10, 1987.
* With Wednesday's win, head coach Tom Penders moved into a tie for 26th place with Marv Harshmann (Pacific Lutheran, Washington State, Washington, 1946-85) with 637 career victories... Up next in the NCAA records book is Billy Tubbs, who recorded 641 wins at Southwestern, Oklahoma, TCU and Lamar from 1972 to 2006.
* With six blocks, junior forward Maurice McNeil posted a career high... His total topped his previous best of four at Iowa State on Jan. 3.
* Senior guard Aubrey Coleman recorded his 11th 20-point game of the 2009-10 season and the 27th of his career.
* Senior guard Kelvin Lewis competed in his 77th consecutive game and made his 50th straight start... Both streaks are the longest among active Cougar players... The Fort Worth, Texas, native also competed in the 100th game of his career (79 at Houston, 21 at Auburn in 2006-07).
* Lewis played all 40 minutes for the fourth time this season and the 14th time during his Houston career.
* Freshman forward Kendrick Washington set career highs with seven points in 22 minutes and tied his single-game best with five rebounds... The Shreveport, La., native topped his previous points high at UTSA (Jan. 1) and against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 6) and tied his rebounds high at UTSA (Jan. 1)... He also surpassed his previous best in minutes played of 20 at Iowa State (Jan. 3).
* Senior forward Sean Coleman made his second start of the season and the fourth of his career... Coleman was held out of the Iowa State game as a precautionary measure after having seven stitches above his right eye following a collision at UTSA on Jan. 1.



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