Men's Hoops Rolls Past UTEP, 79-61
Feb. 13, 2013
HOUSTON - Flirting with a triple-double, sophomore TaShawn Thomas led all players with 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the University of Houston Men's Basketball team claimed a resounding 79-61 win against Conference USA-rival UTEP on Wednesday evening inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Killeen, Texas, native connected on 10-of-19 shots from the field on the way to his team-leading 10th double-double of the season and the 19th of his career. He also dished out a career-high seven assists, topping his previous high of six earlier this season against Louisiana-Lafayette.
With the win, the Cougars moved to 15-8 overall and 4-6 in Conference USA play. UTEP, which entered Wednesday's in fourth place in the league standings, dropped to 13-10 this season and 6-4 in league action.
Thomas was part of a balanced, all-around attack that saw four Cougars reach double digits. Freshman forward Danuel House scored 19 points, including three 3-pointers, with five rebounds and four assists, while redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers added 13 points, including three 3-pointers with eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Joseph Young, who entered the game as C-USA's third-leading scorer, finished with 12 points, including a pair of treys.
In the first of two regular-season meetings against UTEP, the Cougars grabbed the upper hand. Houston used sharp shooting throughout the game, hitting at least 54 percent in each half and finishing the contest at 55.1 percent (27-of-49) for the game, including a blistering 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from behind the arc.
Houston jumped out to a 43-29 lead at halftime, thanks in part to a 10-1 run to close out the opening 20 minutes after the Miners pulled to within five points.
In the second half, the Cougars built a 50-35 advantage when Mikhail McLean swiped a UTEP pass and converted a layup with 16:46 left in the game.
UTEP would not go away quietly, chipping away at the lead until moving to within 50-43 with 14:54 on a John Bohannon layup.
Following a timeout, the Cougars regrouped and re-ignited their offense thanks to the defense of freshman center Valentine Izundu. After the break, House converted a pair of free throws and on UTEP's next possession, Izundu swatted a Bohannon jumper into the arms of Stiggers, who raced down the court and buried a 3-pointer.
UTEP used a basket from Cedrick Lang to chip away again and looked ready to move even closer after a Houston missed shot, but Izundu added another block in less than two minutes to key a Stiggers layup for a 57-45 lead with 12:33 to go.
The Miners moved to 66-58 late in the game, but Houston closed out the night on a 13-3 run for the final margin of victory.
Julian Washburn led UTEP with 17 points, six rebounds and a pair of 3-pointers, while Bohannon added 11 points. Konner Tucker finished with 10 points and two treys of his own, while Jacques Streeter dished out a team-high five assists.
Sophomore guard Tione Womack made his second start of the season.
Cougars went with the lineup of Tione Womack-Joseph Young-Danuel House-Mikhail McLean-TaShawn Thomas for the first time... Was the 10th different starting lineup used by head coach James Dickey.
Sophomore guard LeRon Barnes grabbed a career-high six rebounds... Topped his old mark of five set against Texas State (Dec. 6, 2011).
Redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers snared a career-best eight rebounds... Topped his old mark of seven at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 25, 2012) and against Louisiana College (Nov. 19, 2012).
Junior forward J.J. Richardson sat out Wednesday's game and did not dress against the Miners... Cougars are hoping he will be available the Tulsa game on Saturday.
Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas started his 53rd consecutive game, every game of his collegiate career.
Following Wednesday's game, the Cougars return to action at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, when they meet Tulsa for the second time this season at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla. Earlier this season, Tulsa claimed an 87-72 win in Hofheinz Pavilion.
Saturday's game can be seen live on FOX Sports Net with Ron Thulin calling the play-by-play action, Mike Gminski providing analysis and Jenn Hildreth reporting from the sidelines.
The game also can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Houston legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes providing analysis.
Single-game tickets for all remaining home games are on sale now. To purchase tickets, fans can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by online at UHCougars.com.
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