Sophomore guard Zamal Nixon
March 7, 2009
HOUSTON - Sophomore guard Zamal Nixon came off the bench to pour in 21 points, nailing a career-best seven 3-pointers, to lead the University of Houston basketball team to an 89-77 win over Conference USA-rival SMU on Saturday inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Nixon finished the night shooting a scintillating 7-for-9 from behind the arc and tied his career-high with seven assists.
The game featured sharp shooting by both teams. SMU connected on 50 percent of its shots, but the Cougars posted an even higher clip, hitting 58.8 percent of its shots. That total included a dazzling 65.2 percent in the second half.
The Cougars took a 39-33 lead into the locker room at halftime, but the Mustangs pulled to within 44-40 when Derek Williams hit a pair of free throws with 15:38 remaining.
However, that would be as close as SMU would get. The Cougars took off on a 15-5 run over the next four minutes and would never lead by fewer than nine points the rest of the way.
In all, four Cougars scored in double-figures with junior guard Aubrey Coleman leading the way scoring a team-high 22 points to go along with his game-high 10 rebounds for his team-leading 12th double-double of the season.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Coleman nailed 6-of-8 shots from the field and connected on 10-of-12 free throw attempts in the final 20 minutes for his 14th 20-point game of the season.
Juniors Kelvin Lewis and Qa'rraan Calhoun finished with 19 points and 17 points, respectively, and combined to shoot 6-for-11 from 3-point range, as the Cougars went 13-for-22 (.591) as a team from distance.
UH's 3-point barrage would be too much for the Mustangs to overcome.
SMU guard Derek Williams led all players with 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Guard Justin Haynes added 12 points, while Mouhammad Faye added 10 points in the loss.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 19-10 overall and finished in a tie with UTEP for fourth in the league with a 10-6 mark. The Cougars will compete as the No. 5 seed at next week's 2009 Conference USA Championship, the first time since 2005 that UH did not receive a first-round bye.
SMU dropped to 9-20 overall and 3-13 in the league. The Mustangs will compete as the No. 12 seed at the 2009 C-USA Championship.
NEXT GAME FOR HOUSTON
The Cougars open at the 2009 Conference USA Championship when they face No. 12 seed SMU at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.
Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal or at UHCougars.com with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to start at 8:15 p.m., Wednesday.
Fans also can follow live stats by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com.