Feb. 7, 2007
DALLAS - Oliver Lafayette and Robert Lee combined for 33 points and the University of Houston men's basketball team used one of its best defensive efforts of the season to beat SMU, 64-49, Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
Lafayette finished with a game-high 20 points for his fifth 20-point performance of the season, and Lee added 13 points off the bench.
But the story of the game was Houston's defense, which held the Mustangs to the fewest points Houston has given up in a conference game this season. The Cougars also forced 21 turnovers and collected 13 steals, which also equaled Houston's season high of 13 against Monmouth.
Lafayette led the Cougars with four steals, marking the 37th time in 53 games that he has recorded three or more steals in a game during past two seasons.
Houston took control of the game early as the Cougars jumped out to a 10-2 lead when Marcus Malone scored five points on a three-point shot and a two-point shot in the right baseline corner. Robert McKiver scored three of his 13 points and Jahmar Thorpe added a lay-up after he rebounded a miss by Dion Dowell.
After the Ponies came back with an 8-2 run, Lafayette answered with his first of three first-half three-point field goals to extend Houston's lead to 15-10. That was as close as SMU would get the rest of the half, as the Cougars went into the half-time locker room with a 28-21 lead.
Houston picked right up where it left off in the second half as McKiver and Lafayette opened the second half nailing three-point shots on Houston's first two possessions to give the Cougars a 34-21 lead.
SMU fought back to within 34-31 with 16:54 left before Lee came off the bench and made five of his six free throws and Dowell added a lay-up off an offensive rebound to extend Houston's lead back to 41-31.
The Cougars (12-10, 6-3 in Conference USA) extended its lead to 17 points, 58-41, with 2:35 left to play when McKiver made both of his free throws. After SMU closed the gap to 58-46 on a three-point shot by Jon Killen and a jumper in the lane by Dez Willingham, Lafayette made six straight free throws to give the Cougars their biggest lead of the night, 64-46, with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
In addition to collecting 13 steals, Houston turned 21 SMU turnovers into 23 points and held an advantage in rebounding and fast break points over the Mustangs.
Devon Pearson came off the bench to lead the Mustangs (13-10, 2-7) with 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Ike Ofoegbu had 11 points and five rebounds.
The Cougars won its third C-USA road game this season, equaling Houston's total in each of the last two seasons.
Houston returns home to play host to East Carolina this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans who attend the East Carolina game can get autographs of this year's men's basketball team and photos taken with various players on the concourse of Hofheinz Pavilion following the game Saturday night.