Jan. 14, 2009
EL PASO, Texas - Junior guard Kelvin Lewis scored a career-high 29 points, including 17 free throws, while junior guard Aubrey Coleman recorded his team-leading fifth double-double to help lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 94-86 win against Conference USA rival UTEP in the Don Haskins Center on Tuesday.
Lewis, who finished 17-of-18 from the free throw line, was part of a solid team effort by the Cougars from the charity stripe. After building a 14-point advantage midway through the second half, the Cougars scored their final 14 points in the last 61 seconds of the game to ice the win.
UH connected on 34-of-41 free throws in the game, including 25-of-31 in the second half alone. After junior forward Qa'rraan Calhoun missed a pair of free throws with 9:55 left, the Cougars hit their next 22 free throw attempts as a team to hold the Miners off.
With his free throw total, Lewis set a Haskins Center record by an opponent, topping the previous best of 15 by Southern's Byron Gabriel on Dec. 31, 1984.
The two teams battled to a 42-42 tie at the halftime break before the Miners jumped out to a 47-45 lead early in the second half. However, the Cougars used a 22-6 run over the next 7:44 to build a seemingly comfortable 67-53 lead with 10:45 left in the game.
The Miners, through, would not go away easily and used a 16-5 run of their own to pull to within 72-69 after a pair of free throws from guard Stefon Jackson at the 4:51 mark.
That would be as close as UTEP would get the rest of the way, though. With the Cougars leading by three, Lewis was fouled on a 3-point attempt and buried all three attempts to double the UH advantage. The teams traded baskets during the next three minutes before freshman point guard Desmond Wade connected on a jumper with only one second remaining on the shot clock to give the Cougars an 80-74 lead with 1:23 remaining in the game.
That would be the last field goal the Cougars would score for the rest of the night, but the team's performance from the free throw line would be enough to take the win. Wade and Coleman each connected on four free throws, while Lewis led the way with five.
All five Cougar starters scored in double digits with Lewis' 29-point effort leading all players. Coleman recorded his fifth double-double with 24 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and added a career-high six assists, while Calhoun posted 15 points with a pair of treys.
Wade added 12 points, while senior center Marcus Cousin posted 10 points in the win.
Junior center Nick Mosley came off the bench to score four points and grab five rebounds and provided key play on the inside when Cousin was forced to sit with foul trouble.
Jackson led the Miners with 27 points and seven rebounds, while center Kareem Cooper added 21 points and seven rebounds of his own. Guard Randy Culpepper came off the bench to score 16 points in the loss.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 11-3 overall and 2-0 in C-USA games. Although the league schedule is young with most teams playing only two or three games, UH joins Memphis (3-0) as the only undefeated teams in league play.
In addition, the Cougars earned their first ever win over UTEP in El Paso, snapping a seven-game road losing streak to the Miners. It was the first time that either team won on their opponent's home court.
UTEP fell to 10-6 overall and 1-1 in C-USA games.
UP NEXT FOR HOUSTON
The Cougars return to action at 4 p.m., Saturday when they meet Conference USA rival Southern Miss in Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tip-off each day.
Fans also can follow live stats of both games by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com.