March 12, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Junior guard Aubrey Coleman and senior center Marcus Cousin each recorded double-doubles to help lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to an 89-85 win over No. 4 seed UTEP during the quarterfinals of the 2009 Conference USA Championship at FedExForum on Thursday night.
Coleman led the Cougars with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Cousin added 16 points and 12 rebounds to help lead UH to the C-USA Championship semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons. It was Coleman's team-leading 14th double-double of the season and fifth straight and Cousin's ninth double-double in 2008-09.
UTEP appeared to seize the game's momentum late and carried it early into the overtime period. With the Cougars inbounding the ball with a 74-72 lead and only 17 seconds left in regulation, Miner guard Randy Culpepper stole the ball and missed a jumper, but teammate Stefon Jackson snared the offensive rebound and nailed a baseline jumper that tied the game with just 7.6 seconds left.
When UH junior guard Kelvin Lewis' desperation heave was off the mark, the Cougars headed for their second overtime game of the season.
Early in the extra period, UTEP grabbed a 77-76 lead with 3:54 remaining when Culpepper was fouled and hit both free throw attempts. However, that would be the last time the Miners would lead.
Coleman nailed a jumper and, after a UTEP turnover, junior guard Kelvin Lewis nailed a 3-pointer. Sophomore guard Zamal Nixon followed that with a steal and layup to hand the Cougars an 83-77 lead with 2:28 left in the contest.
UTEP eventually trimmed the lead to 85-82 with a minute remaining, but after a missed Coleman jumper, junior center Nick Mosley made a spectacular save before the loose ball bounced out of bounds and flipped it to Nixon, who was fouled after running time off the clock and hit both free throws for an 87-82 Cougar lead with less than a minute remaining.
Although the Cougars' regular steady performance from the free throw line was missing Thursday, Lewis hit two free throws with seven seconds left for the final margin of victory. The Cougars, who entered the game hitting 75.4 percent of their free throws, converted only 24-of-39 attempts in the nail-biter.
Lewis added 22 points with a game-high four 3-pointers, while Nixon finished with 15 points in only 21 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 21-10 overall, while UTEP dropped to 19-12. The Cougars also won the season series against the Miners with each team winning on the other's home court during the regular season.
Jackson led the Miners with a game-high 38 points, tying Iowa State's Craig Brackins for the most points scored by a Cougar opponent this season. Arnett Moultrie added 13 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, while Culpepper finished with 16 points, thanks in part to 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. Julyan Stone also added 12 points and a team-high five assists in the loss.
NEXT GAME FOR HOUSTON
With Thursday's win, the Cougars advanced to the 2009 C-USA Championship semifinals to face No. 1 seed #4/3 seed Memphis at 3 p.m., Friday. No. 2 seed Tulsa meets No. 3 seed UAB at 5:30 p.m., Friday, in the other semifinal.
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 2:45 p.m., Friday
In addition, both semifinal games can be seen live on CBS College Sports (DirecTV channel 613/Dish Network channel 152) with Carter Blackburn calling the play-by-play action and Pete Gillen providing analysis.
Fans also can follow live stats by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com.