Cougars Fall 79-69 to No. 20 Memphis despite a combined 41 points by Robert McKiver and Jahmar Thorpe

Jan. 11, 2007

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HOUSTON - Despite a combined 41 points by junior guard Robert McKiver and senior forward Jahmar Thorpe, Houston could not overcome a hot shooting hand by 19th-ranked Memphis as the Tigers beat the Cougars, 79-69,on Thursday night in Hofheinz Pavilion.

McKiver led the Cougars with a game-high 27 points, and Thorpe scored 14 points, but Memphis shot 60 percent from the field, including 62.5 percent behind the three-point arc.

Chris Douglas-Roberts led Memphis with 16 points, and Jeremy Hunt came off the bench to score 14. Joey Dorsey powered his way inside for neight points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Two other Tigers scored in double figures with Robert Dozier netting 12 points and while Doneal Mack adding 11. Dozier also blocked three shots.

Memphis is Conference USA's top-scoring team, but the Tigers beat the Cougars with their defense as much as their offense, holding Houston to 43 percent shooting (26-of-60).

Memphis also dominated the backboards, outrebounding the Cougars 35-26 and out-scoring Houston 40-18 in the paint, to win its first true road game of the season. The Tigers lost at Arizona and Tennessee in December.

\The loss was Houston's fifth straight as the Cougars fell to 5-8 overall this season and 0-1 in Conference USA.

Both teams opened the game tied at 5-5 in the first four minutes, before the Tigers used a 9-0 run to build an early nine-point lead. Dozier finished a fast break with a layup and Hunt sank a 3-pointer, both off Cougars' turnovers, to put Memphis up 14-5.

The Tigers led 20-13 when Jahmar Thorpe rebounded a 3-point miss by McKiver with one hand and dunked it to trigger an 8-2 spurt. McKiver swished a pair of 3-pointers to cut the Tigers' lead to 22-21.

Houston trailed by three when Memphis mounted a 13-3 burst to push the lead into double digits. Douglas-Roberts converted a three-point play after another Houston turnover and Antonio Anderson hit a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 39-26 lead.

Memphis led 47-33 at the break after hitting 18 of 28 shots (64 percent). The Tigers dominated inside at both ends in the half, outrebounding Houston 19-14, blocking four shots and scoring 24 points in the paint.

McKiver was 6-of-10, with five 3-pointers, and had 17 points at the break. The rest of the team missed 14 of 19 shots in the opening half.

McKiver swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key 20 seconds into the second half and Thorpe scored inside to draw the Cougars to within nine. Andre Allen answered with a 3-pointer and Dozier muscled in for a bank shot to stretch the lead to 15.

Hunt hit a 3-pointer after Joey Dorsey grabbed an offensive rebound and Allen turned a steal into a breakaway layup to extend the lead to 59-40 by the 14-minute mark.

The Tigers stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way, controlling the boards and finally pinning down McKiver, who missed five of eight shots in the second half.

Houston will try to rebound and win its first Conference USA game when the Cougars play host to SMU Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. in Hofheinz Pavlion.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Thorpe added 14 points for the Cougars.



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