Men's Basketball Beats Rice 69-60

Jan. 23, 2008

Final Stats

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HOUSTON - The University of Houston men's basketball team used one of its best defensive efforts of the season to beat crosstown rival Rice University 69-60 in front of 1,175 in Conference USA action Wednesday at Reliant Arena.

Houston (14-3, 3-0 C-USA) collected a season-best 17 steals and forced Rice to commit 29 turnovers to win its 13th game in the last 15 outings. The Cougars also improved to 3-0 in C-USA play for the first time in school history. Houston used a 10-5 run midway through the first half to take a 26-22 lead. The Owls fought back take a 30-29 lead after Patrick Britton scored on a three-point play with a lay-up and a free throw.

Houston's Robert McKiver, who led the Cougars with 18 points, made two free throws to give Houston a 31-30 lead. After Rice's Rodney Foster made one of his two free throws to tie the score, junior center Marcus Cousin made a lay-up to give the Cougars the lead the rest of the half.

After Pierre Beasley made one of his two free throws for the Owls, McKiver added two more free throws with 3:35 remaining in the opening half to give the Cougars a 35-32 lead.

After Foster made two more free throws, McKiver scored four straight points on a field goal and a pair of free throws to give Houston's its biggest lead in the half, 39-34.

Paulius made a jump shot in the lane with 43 seconds left to make the halftime score 39-36.

The Cougars were caught back on their heels in the opening minutes of the second half as Rice used a 7-0 run to take a 43-39 lead with 15:40 left to play.

Zamal Nixon began an 11-1 run for the Cougars when he nailed a three-point jumper from the top of the key to give the Cougars a six-point cushion, 50-44 with 10:31 remaining in the game.

DaShaun Williams and Marcus Cousin each scored four points to account for Houston's other eight points. After Nixon nailed his trey, Williams scored two consecutive lay-ups. The first came after he stole the ball from Foster and he scored the second after Lanny Smith hit him in back of Rice's zone defense.

Cousin tipped in McKiver's missed lay-up and nailed a jump shot on the left baseline.

The Cougars never trailed again as they closed the game making 11 of their 14 free throws down the stretch to preserve a 69-60 victory. The win was Houston's first road win against the Owls since Jan, 13, 1996, a total of five straight losses.

The victory also gave head coach Tom Penders hist 598th career win, moving him into sole possession of eighth place on the most wins by active coaches list. With two more wins this season, he will become the eighth active NCAA Division I men's coach with 600 victories.

Kelvin Lewis was the only other Cougar to score in double figures with 10 points. Cousin, Smith and Tafari Toney each chipped in with nine. Cousin grabbed six rebounds, Smith dished out six assists and Toney added four boards.

Williams came off the bench and set two career highs with nine rebounds and four steals.

Packevicius led four Owls in double digits with 16 points and a career- and game-high 20 rebounds. Patrick Britton and Rodney Foster scored 14 points apiece and Lawrence Ghoram scored 10.

The Cougars return to action Saturday night Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. CST when they play host to Marshall on Guy V. Lewis Court at Hofheinz Pavilion. The game is selected as "UH Day" and every student in the University of Houston System gets in free and faculty/staff can purchase tickets for $5.

Following that game, UH also plays host No. 1 Memphis on Jan. 30 also at 7 p.m.

Tickets for both games are available by calling the UH Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS or by logging on to www.UHCougars.com.



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