Men's Basketball Holds Off SMU in C-USA Championship Opening Round

March 11, 2009

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Junior guard Aubrey Coleman scored a game-high 20 points to lead a balanced offensive during the University of Houston men's basketball team's 85-76 win against No. 12 seed SMU on Wednesday during the first round of the 2009 Conference USA Championship at the FedExForum.

Coleman was part of a consistent offensive attack that saw all five starters nail at least six field goals and score at least 14 points. In addition to Coleman, junior forward Qa'rraan Calhoun added18 points, sophomore guard Zamal Nixon recorded 17 points with three 3-pointers, and senior center Marcus Cousin and junior guard Kelvin Lewis posted 14 points apiece to pace the Cougars.

Coleman also finished with a game-high 14 rebounds for his team-leading 13th double-double this season. Cousin finished with eight rebounds, while Calhoun added seven board, and Nixon dished out a game-high five assists with no turnovers.

The Cougars, who never trailed in the game, jumped out to a 14-2 lead early and eventually took a 41-30 lead into the locker room at the halftime break. The Mustangs cut that deficit to 50-45 with 15:57 remaining in the game, but that would be as close as SMU would get the rest of the way.

The two teams went back-and-forth in the second half with SMU trimming the Cougar advantage to six points on three separate occasions. However, each time the Mustangs threatened the UH lead, a Cougar player would answer.

Lewis nailed a jumper at the 7:40 mark, Calhoun nailed a dunk with 6:18 left and Coleman buried a pair of free throws with 5:29 to go to extend the Cougar lead each time. Coleman's attempts from the charity stripe started a 5-0 Cougar run that handed UH a 77-66 cushion with 4:34 remaining.

The Mustangs had one last rally late and trimmed the UH lead to 81-74 with 75 second left, but the teams traded free throws during the remaining time for the final margin of victory.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 20-10 overall and won their eighth straight game against the Mustangs. SMU ended its season with a 9-21 overall record.

The Cougars advance to the 2009 C-USA Championship quarterfinals to face No. 4 seed UTEP at 8:30 p.m., Thursday. That game will be the rubber match of the 2008-09 season against the Miners with each team winning on the other's home court, a first in the all-time series.

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.

In addition, all four games from Thursday during the 2009 C-USA Championship - including the Cougars' showdown against UTEP - can be seen live on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast on channel 76 on Comcast-Houston.

Fans also can follow live stats by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com.



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