Dec. 2, 2008
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Trailing by six midway through the second half, the University of Houston men's basketball used a 21-4 run to take the lead for good and then held off a furious comeback on the way to a 70-67 win over Sun Belt Conference member Middle Tennessee on Tuesday inside the Murphy Center.
After the Cougars grabbed a 44-43 lead, the Blue Raiders built a 50-44 advantage - their largest lead of the game - following two field goals from Montarrio Haddock and a 3-pointer from Desmond Yates with 12:49 remaining in the game.
However, the Cougars erupted on a 21-4 run over the next 7:52 to build a 65-54 lead. Junior guard Kelvin Lewis led the way with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while junior guard Aubrey Coleman added three field goals during the rally.
The Blue Raiders fought their way back to 67-64 when Calvin O'Neil hit the second of two free throws with 1:11 left, but the Cougars pushed their lead to 69-64 on Coleman's jumper with 35 seconds remaining. After Demetrius Green's 3-pointer cut the Cougar lead to 69-67, sophomore forward Horace McGloster was fouled with 7.9 seconds remaining.
The Newark, N.J., native connected on his first one-and-one free throw attempt but missed his second, giving the Blue Raiders one last chance to send the game into overtime. Guard Kevin Kanaskie raced down the court but, after being tied up with the ball by freshman point guard Desmond Wade for a split second, his 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer to give the Cougars the win.
With the win, the Cougars collected their fifth straight win - third straight over a Sun Belt Conference school - to improve to 5-1. It marked the second straight season the Cougars began the season 5-1 and tied for the best record through six games since 1998-99.
The Cougars also enjoyed their first road win of the season, competing in front of 4,122 fans. UH opened the year at the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer but split neutral-site games against Georgia Southern and Presbyterian in host Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Middle Tennessee dropped its third straight game and fell to 2-3.
Coleman led all players with 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field. The Houston native also was a force for the Cougars on the defensive side, grabbing seven rebounds and posted a career-high six steals, all in the second half.
Lewis finished with 23 points - his third-straight 20-point game - on 8-of-16 shooting with five 3-pointers. Senior center Marcus Cousin added six points and a game-high nine rebounds while blocking a career-high six shots.
Cousin was part of a Cougar defensive effort that posted 12 blocks, the fifth-highest single-game total in UH history and the most since the team swatted 12 opposing shots against Conference USA-rival Southern Miss on Feb. 3, 2004.
Desmond Yates scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Blue Raiders in both categories, while Green added 17 points in the loss.
UP NEXT FOR HOUSTON
The Cougars will take another break for final examinations before returning to action at 7 p.m. (CST), Dec. 13, when they play host to Mississippi Valley State inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Willis Wilson as analyst. The pregame show is slated to begin at 6:45 p.m. (CST).