Feb. 21, 2007
HOUSTON - Oliver Lafayette and Robert McKiver scored 24 points each and Jahmar Thorpe registered his second double-double performance of the season to lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 78-70 comeback victory over Tulane Wednesday night in Hofheinz Pavilion.
"If (Robert McKiver and I) drive to the basket, they can't guard the other's three-point opportunities," Lafayette said. "We are driving in more and more to help set up the other for a good look."
Those drives seemed to work Wednesday night as Lafayette made four of his seven three-point attempts and McKiver added two more treys. Their drives also led to a combined 12 of 13 shooting at the free-throw line. McKiver made eight of his nine free throws, while Lafayette finished the game making all four of his during final two minutes of the game.
Thorpe also proved to be a big factor early in the game finished the first half with six points and seven rebounds en route to accumulating 12 points and 10 boards.
"Jahmar is our horse inside, so we have to get him going early," McKiver said. "He plays hard on both ends of the floor, so if we can get him a lot of touches early, it opens up the offense for the rest of us. That was one of the keys tonight."
Houston used a pair of decisive runs in each half to take control of the game for the comeback victory.
The first came after Tulane had opened up a 13-7 lead. Dion Dowell and Lafayette nailed back-to-back three-point shots to tie the score, and McKiver made a lay-up to give Houston its first lead of the game.
The Green Wave hung tough early in the game as they answered with a 9-0 run of their own. Tulane was leading, 28-21, when the Cougars closed the half with a 14-5 run to take a 35-33 lead into halftime.
In the second half Houston opened up a 10-point lead with 15:00 minutes to play when Lafayette hit a lay-up and a three-point shot, McKiver added a jumper and Dowell connected on a three-point shot on the right baseline to make the score, 49-39.
Houston increased its lead to as many as 12 points, and was leading 67-56, when Tulane rallied one last time. The Green Wave used an 11-3 run to close to within three points, 70-67, with 1:57 left to play.
But, Lafayette made four free throws, McKiver added two, while Charlie Jones and Thorpe each made one of their two tries to help Houston pull away with a 78-70 victory.
Jones finished the game with three assists and played 12 key minutes for the Cougars. Nick Mosley added four points, three rebounds and three blocked shots, while Toney added five points and six rebounds. "Our bench was a key for us tonight," Penders said. "Tulane plays a lot of people and this is our fourth game in seven days. I thought Nick was really quick on the ball tonight blocking shots, and Tafari did a really good job inside as well. Charlie gave us more than we expected, considering he was sick in bed all day. He was able to take some of the pressure off Fluff (McKiver) and give him a break."
The win improves Houston's overall record to 15-12, and the Cougars improved their Conference USA record to 9-4 and remained tied with UCF for second place in the C-USA standings. The Golden Knights edged Southern Miss, 59-56, in Orlando.
Houston travels to Memphis Sunday for a regionally-televised game at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon before traveling to UCF next Wednesday night. The Cougars close out the regular season against UTEP in a regionally-televised game March 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Tulane (13-12, 6-7) had won four of its last five games before Wednesday's loss.
Kevin Sims led the Green Wave with 14 points, while David Gomez added 12 on just 5-for-13 shooting. Matt Wheaton and Donnie Stith added 10 each for Tulane.
The Cougars led 35-33 at halftime and never trailed in the second half.