Houston Travels To UMass

Jan. 1, 2008

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After concluding an eight-game home stand, the University of Houston men's basketball team will travel to Amherst, Mass., and play its first road game of the season at the University of Massachusetts on Jan. 2. The game will be nationally televised on CSTV beginning at 6:00 p.m. (Central).

The Cougars enter the game having won their 10th straight game and improving their record to 11-1 after beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-65 last Saturday night in Hofheinz Pavilion. The win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff gives Houston a 9-0 record in home games this season.

Houston's 11-1 record is the best start for a Cougar team since UH began the 1981-82 season with a 12-1 mark.

UMass enters the game with a 10-2 record this season and the Minutemen own a 5-0 record in home games after beating Boston 70-61 last Saturday night in Amherst. The win was the fifth straight victory for UMass with the other victories coming against Marist, at Boston College, Toledo, Central Connecticut and Boston.

Houston and UMass will meet for the first time Wednesday night. The Cougars have a 28-38 record against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference. Last season, Houston owned a 3-1 record versus A-10 teams with wins over Rhode Island, Charlotte and Saint Louis. The loss came at Saint Louis as the Cougars and Billikens met twice in 2006-07.

For the second straight week, Houston received votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cougars received 10 votes in this week's poll. If you ranked teams by points, Houston would be 34th in the poll. Massachusetts is 35th with eight votes.

Last week, Houston received four votes following its victory over Kentucky. It is the third time the Cougars have received votes this season. Houston received one vote in the AP preseason poll. The last time Houston was ranked among the Top 25 teams was Dec. 12, 2005 when the Cougars were ranked 25th.

Picked to tie UAB for second place in a poll of Conference USA coaches, the Cougars are led by preseason All-Conference USA selection Robert McKiver, who is averaging 21.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.75 steals per game.

McKiver recorded his third 30-point performance against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and tied his own school record of nine three-point field goals in a game twice this season.

Dion Dowell averages 13.6 points per game and is the team's rebounding leader with an 8.1 average. He is one of two players to start every game this season. The other is Tafari Toney.

Toney is averaging 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game after grabbing eight rebounds in each of the past two games against Kentucky and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.2 per game after recording five assists in six times this season.

Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 11.0 points per game and has scored in double figures seven times this season.

UMass enters Wednesday night's game with a 10-2 record after a 70-61 victory over Boston in front of 4,482 at the Mullins Center. The 10-2 record is the best start for the Minutemen since they began the 1995-96 season with a 26-0 record and advanced to the NCAA Final Four.

Gary Forbes leads the Minutemen with 20.9 points and 89.0 rebounds per game after recording his sixth double-double performance this season after registering 25 points and 13 rebounds against Boston last Saturday night. It was his eighth 20-point game this season and eighth game with 10 or more rebounds.

Ricky Harris also averages 19.2 points after he netted 16 against Boston, while Chris Lowe averages 11.4 points and Etienne Brower is chipping in with 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. Lowe scored 14 points and Brower grabbed nine rebounds against Boston.

Robert McKiver scored 35 points and helped Houston shake off a sluggish start with a 26-3 run to beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-65. The victory was Houston's 10th straight win and gives the Cougars an 11-1 record this season.

It was McKiver's third 30-point game this year and his seventh overall in the last two years. It also was two points shy of his career-best 37 points against Charleston earlier this year.

Houston returned from an 11-day break and trailed 27-24 with 4:16 left in the first half. The Cougars began a 26-3 run over the next eight-and-one-half minutes to jump out to a 50-29 lead with 15:47 left to play. McKiver and Kelvin Lewis keyed the rally as they combined for 23 of the 26 points. McKiver led the way with 13 points while Lewis scored 10 of his 11 total points in that span.

Houston extended its lead to 67-42 with 6:47 left to play, before Arkansas-Pine Bluff closed the game with a 22-4 run of its own to close to within 71-63 with 1:15 left to play.

But, that was as the Golden Lions could get as McKiver closed out the game making four straight free throws to preserve the win.

Zamal Nixon added 12 points off the bench for the Cougars.

Following the game at Massachusetts, Houston returns home to play host to Arizona on January 12. The game tips off at 2:00 p.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion.



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