Late Rally Pushes Men's Hoops Past Rice on Wednesday

March 3, 2010

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HOUSTON - Holding back a furious Owl rally, the University of Houston men's basketball team scored 10 straight points during the final five minutes to break open a close game and take a 78-70 win against Conference USA- and crosstown-rival Rice on Wednesday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.

Midway through the final period, it appeared the Cougars would roll to an easy win after grabbing a 60-46 lead on senior guard Aubrey Coleman's jumper with 12:36 left in the game.

However, the Owls used a 17-2 run during the next five minutes and held a 63-62 lead when Suleiman Braimoh laid up his own miss with 7:33 remaining.

The teams went back and forth from there before the Owls moved to within 66-65 on a pair of Arsalan Kazemi free throws with 4:46 left. But that would be as close as Rice would get the rest of the way.

During the next 3:22, Coleman and junior guard Zamal Nixon led a rally that gave the Cougars the lead for good. After a pair of Kendrick Washington free throws, Coleman converted a layup and buried a 3-pointer after a Rice miss.

Nixon then stole a Rice pass and capped the play with a dunk before draining a jumper following another Rice giveaway with 1:24 left for a 76-65 Houston advantage.

As the Cougars enjoyed Senior Night, it was only fitting that the team's three leading scorers would come from their elder statesmen. Coleman led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Kelvin Lewis finished with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, while playing all 40 minutes.

Forward Sean Coleman scored a career-high 12 points and grabbed four rebounds, while Washington posted nine points and nine rebounds.

Braimoh came off the bench to lead the Owls with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Connor Frizzelle added 12 points and five assists, while Tamir Jackson posted 10 points and a game-high seven assists. Kazemi added 11 points and a pair of blocks in the loss.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 15-14 overall and 7-8 in C-USA games. The Cougars also won their eighth straight game against the Owls and moved closer to finalizing their seeding at the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship, beginning March 10 in Tulsa, Okla.

Houston will play anywhere from the No. 6 seed to the No. 8 seed at the league's annual postseason event.

The Cougars also closed out their regular-season home schedule at Hofheinz Pavilion with a 10-5 record, the sixth straight season that Houston enjoyed double-digit wins at home. It was the first time the Cougars accomplished that feat since Houston opened the facility in 1969 with nine straight seasons of double-digit home wins.

Rice fell to 8-21 overall and 1-14 in C-USA games and will compete as the No. 12 seed at the GMC Sierra C-USA Championship.

The Cougars wrap up the regular season at 7 p.m., Saturday, when they meet Conference USA-rival Tulane inside Fogelman Arena in New Orleans.

The game can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin at 6:45 p.m.

Fans also can watch the game live on CBS College Sports (DirecTV channel 613/Dish Network channel 152) with Roger Twibell calling the play-by-play action and Steve Lappas providing analysis.

Fans are invited to each broadcast of The Pulse with Tom Penders from various restaurants throughout Houston.

The radio show airs live from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays for the remainder of the season. The next edition of The Pulse with Tom Penders will broadcast live on Thursday, March 4, from Bubba's Sports Bar and Grill (6225 Washington, 77077).

The show can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com and will be hosted by the "Voice of the Cougars" Tom Franklin.

Fans are invited to join Penders and Franklin at the selected restaurant each week as the duo discusses recent Cougar Basketball action and upcoming games, college basketball, the world of sports and much more.

Fans also can click the "Ask Coach Penders" button on the main page at UHCougars.com to submit a question that could be asked on the show.

The date and location for the final broadcast of The Pulse with Tom Penders will be announced at a later date. Originally scheduled for Thursday, March 11, the site and date may change depending on the Cougars' stay at the 2010 C-USA Championship, hosted by Tulsa beginning March 10.

* Prior to Wednesday's game, guards Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis and forward Sean Coleman, together with their families, were honored in Senior Night ceremonies.
* With 12 points, senior forward Sean Coleman posted a career-high... His total topped his previous best of 11 points at Nevada on Nov. 21.
* Senior guard Kelvin Lewis competed in his 92nd consecutive game and made his 65th straight start... Both streaks are the longest among active Cougar players.
* Lewis played every minute of a game for the seventh time in 2009-10 and the 17th time during his career.
* With Wednesday's game, head coach Tom Penders worked his 1,080th game and moved into a tie for 12th place in NCAA Division I career history Marv Harshmann, who also coached 1,080 games at Pacific Lutheran, Washington State and Washington from 1946-85... Up next in the NCAA records book is Norm Stewart, who coached 1,107 games at Northern Iowa and Missouri from 1962 to 1999.



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