Late Coleman Bucket Lifts Men's Hoops into C-USA Championship Semifinals

March 11, 2010

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TULSA, Okla. - Senior guard Aubrey Coleman's jumper in the lane with just five seconds remaining lifted the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 66-65 win against No. 2 seed Memphis on Thursday during the GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship quarterfinals at BOK Center.

With the Cougars trailing 65-64 following Willie Kemp's layup with 15 seconds to go, the Cougars worked the ball around before Coleman drove, forced a Memphis defender into the air and then banked a leaning jumper off the glass to give the Cougars the lead for good with only five ticks on the clock.

Having just used its final timeout, Memphis raced down the court for a final shot attempt, but Kemp was whistled for carrying the ball, giving the ball back to the Cougars with only 0.8 seconds left. After inbounding the ball to Maurice McNeil, the horn sounded to give the Cougars and their ecstatic fans the win.

Coleman, who entered the game as the nation's leading scorer, also grabbed eight rebounds with two assists and three steals while playing all 40 minutes. It was the seventh time this season and the 12th time during his career Coleman played every minute of a game.

Senior guard Kelvin Lewis finished the game with 13 points, including a game-high 3-pointers, while junior forward Maurice McNeil came off the bench to score 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with nine rebounds. Freshman forward Kendrick Washington tied his career high with a game-high 10 rebounds in only 20 minutes, and sophomore point guard Desmond Wade dished out a game-high six assists with no turnovers in only 25 minutes.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 17-15 overall, and won their second straight game against Memphis. Houston enjoyed a 92-75 win against the Tigers on Feb. 24 at Hofheinz Pavilion.

This also marked the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Cougars advanced to the C-USA Championship semifinals. Only a quarterfinal loss in 2008 prevented a longer Houston streak.

Memphis fell to 23-9 overall and must wait until Sunday evening to learn its postseason fate.

Houston raced out to a 36-27 halftime lead before Memphis used hot shooting in the second half to close the gap. Early in the second half, the Tigers used several runs to move to within two points but could not get over the hump.

Eventually, the Cougars built a 57-51 advantage on Zamal Nixon's free throw with 6:39 to go. However the Tigers used a 10-2 run during the next 3:18 and snared a 61-59 lead when Kemp drove to the hoop and laid it in with 3:21 left.

After both teams traded missed shots, Lewis drained a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining to hand the Cougars a 62-61 lead.

With only 1:40 left, sophomore guard Elliot Williams connected on a pair of free throws to give the lead back to the Tigers. Lewis missed a 3-point attempt, but junior guard Adam Brown grabbed the rebound and the Cougars set up their offense again.

Coleman then nailed a jumper with 41 seconds left to hand the Cougars a 64-63 lead. After Memphis used its fourth timeout, the Tigers moved the ball around then took advantage of another Kemp layup with 15 seconds left to take a 65-64 lead.

The Tigers used their final timeout immediately after the Kemp basket to set up their defense, but Coleman's basket with five seconds left thwarted those plans.

Although the Tigers hit 46.9 percent of their shots in the game - including an impressive 56.5 percent (13-of-23) in the second half alone, the Cougars overcame those totals with a 46-33 rebounding advantage, the third straight game this season that Houston outboarded the Tigers.

Kemp led the Tigers with 15 points, while Will Coleman added 14 points and tied with Wesley Witherspoon for the team lead with eight rebounds. Elliot Williams collected 10 points but earned eight of those from the free throw line after going only 1-of-9 from the field.

The Cougars advance to the GMC Sierra C-USA Championship semifinals to face No. 6 seed Southern Miss at 5:30 pm., Friday at the BOK Center. The Golden Eagles were another upset winner, knocking off No. 3 seed UAB 58-44.

Fans can hear the game live on SportsTalk 790 AM with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Fans also can watch the game on CBS College Sports (DirecTV channel 613/Dish Network channel 152) or at UHCougars.com with Roger Twibell calling the play-by-play action and Sean Farnham providing analysis.

* This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Cougars advanced to the Conference USA Championship semifinals... Only a quarterfinal loss in 2008 prevents a much longer Houston streak.
* With a 46-33 advantage, Houston outrebounded Memphis for the third straight game in 2009-10... Houston enjoyed only seven games total this season in which they outrebounded their opponents.
* Houston snapped a three-game losing streak against Memphis at the Conference USA Championship... Thursday's game was Houston's first postseason victory against the Tigers since an 80-74 win in the quarterfinals on March 7, 2002... Houston snapped an overall 11-game losing streak against Memphis with a 92-75 win on Feb. 24 in Houston.
* With 21 points, senior guard Aubrey Coleman moved into 13th place in Houston career history with 1,450 points... Up next in the Houston records book is Gary Phillips, who scored 1,452 points from 1958 to 1961.
* Senior guard Kelvin Lewis competed in his 95th consecutive game and made his 68th straight start... Both streaks are the longest among active Cougar players.
* With senior guard Kelvin Lewis mostly guarding him, Memphis guard Elliot Williams was held to 10 points or fewer for the third straight game against the Cougars... In three games against Houston, Williams was limited to 8.7 points per game on 28.6 percent (6-of-21) shooting from the field... Williams entered Thursday's game as the league's second-leading scorer with 18.5 points per game.
* With 10 rebounds, freshman forward Kendrick Washington tied his career high... It was the fourth time in his career Washington posted double-digit rebounds, most recently since playing at UAB (Feb. 20).



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