Men's Basketball Team Hosts 24th-Ranked Arizona

Jan. 11, 2008

Houston - The University of Houston men's basketball team returns home to play host to the 24th-ranked University of Arizona in a nationally televised game on Saturday, Jan. 12 on the Guy V. Lewis Court at Hofheinz Pavilion. The game tips off at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

Houston enters the game with an 11-2 record this season after suffering a 95-88 loss at UMass in the Cougars' first road game of the season. The loss also snapped Houston's 10-game winning streak. The Cougars enter Saturday's game with a 9-0 record in home games this season and have won their last 12 home games dating back to last season.

The Cougars beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-65 in their last home game on Dec. 29 and also beat Kentucky, Southern, Toledo, Middle Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, Grambling State, Texas Southern and Morehead State at home this season.

Arizona has a 10-5 record after suffering their second straight loss last Wednesday night when the Wildcats fell 64-59 in overtime at Arizona State. UA also suffered a 76-63 loss against Oregon last Sunday after the Wildcats opened their Pac-10 Conference schedule with a 76-63 victory over Oregon State on Jan 3. In its previous non-conference game, Arizona suffered a 76-63 loss at Memphis on Dec. 29 after winning six straight games over Cal State Fullerton, Texas A&M, Illinois, Fresno State, UNLV and San Diego State.

The University of Houston will honor former UH coach Guy V. Lewis in a special halftime ceremony this Saturday when the Cougars play host to Arizona at 2:00 p.m. on the Guy V. Lewis Court in Hofheinz Pavilion.

A name synonymous with Cougar basketball, Lewis was an integral part of the success Houston enjoyed throughout his career as both a player and coach from 1946-1986. He was the team captain of Houston's first two Lone Star Conference championship teams, and after serving three seasons as an assistant coach, was named UH's second head basketball coach in 1956.



During the next 30 seasons, Lewis recorded 592 wins and led the Cougars to five NCAA Final Four appearances, 14 NCAA Tournaments and four Southwest Conference Postseason Classic titles. He also guided Houston to the 1977 NIT Championship game and produced 11 first round selections in the NBA Draft and 29 NBA Draft selections overall.

Last fall, Coach Lewis received national recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches when he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Houston and Arizona will meet for the 10th time overall and third straight season when the Cougars play host to the Wildcats. UH has a 5-4 series record against Arizona after suffering an 87-62 loss in Tucson last season. Houston won its last home game against Arizona 69-65 on Dec. 3, 2005. The Cougars have a 4-1 record in home games against the Wildcats.

Houston received one vote in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll following its loss at UMass. The Cougars had received 10 votes in last week's Associated Press media poll entering the UMass game on Dec. 31 and four votes in the AP Poll on Dec. 24. Houston received one vote in the preseason poll. UH did not receive any votes in this week's poll. The last time Houston was in the AP Top 25 poll 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 feature five seniors on its roster. Preseason All-Conference USA selection Robert McKiver averages 20.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.77 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. He led Houston with 15 points against UMass.

Dion Dowell averages 13.5 points per game and is the team's rebounding leader with an 8.2 average. He is one of two players to start every game this season. The other is Tafari Toney.

Toney is averaging 6.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game after netting a season-best 14 points and 6 rebounds at UMass. He also pulled down eight rebounds in each of the previous two games against Kentucky and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game after recording five assists in seven games this season. Smith also scored a season-high of 11 points against both Kentucky and UMass.

Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 10.6 points per game and scored in double figures seven times this season.

Arizona enters Saturday's game with three players from the Greater Houston area on its roster. They are Jawann McClellan, Nic Wise and Fendi Onobun. Freshman guard Jerryd Bayless leads the Wildcats in scoring with 18.5 points per game, but has missed three games with a knee injury. Sophomore forward Chase Budinger averages 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while sophomore post man Jordan Hill is averaging 13.9 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds per contest. McClellan averaged 8.9 points per game, while Wise chips in with 7.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. Onobun averages 2.4 points and 1.0 rebound in five games this season.

The University of Massachusetts overcame a 13-point deficit in the final 18 minutes of the game to hand Houston a 95-88 loss on Jan. 2 in the Mullins Center at Amherst.

Playing in their first road game of the season, the Cougars played a near perfect first half when they jumped out to a 48-37 lead at halftime. Defensively, Houston held the Minutemen to just 40 percent shooting from the field, including 20 percent (3-15) behind the three-point line. On the offensive end, the Cougars shot 52 percent from the field and held a 22-19 rebounding advantage at the intermission.

The game began with Houston's Dion Dowell being called for an intentional foul when he went up to stop Etienne Brower's lay-up attempt. Brower made one of his two free throws before Robert McKiver stole the ball away from Ricky Harris and passed to Dowell for a slam-dunk to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. The Cougars never trailed the rest of the half as Tafari Toney and McKiver ended the opening period with 10 points each.

In the second half, Houston extended its lead to 13 when Lanny Smith drove the lane for a lay-up and passed to Toney for a jumper to make the score 52-39 with 18:03 left to play.

That is when the tone of the game changed as UMass spread the floor and began driving to the basket. That strategy resulted in Houston being whistled for 19 personal fouls and the Minutemen making 13 lay-ups en route to shooting 53.1 percent from the field. UMass also made 21 of their 29 free throws in the second half after attempting just 11 in the opening period.

The Minutemen regained a 71-70 lead with 8:40 left to play as Chris Lowe grabbed a rebound on the defensive end and raced down court for a lay-up. The two teams fought back and forth the rest of the way until the Minutemen took control in the final 71 seconds.

Dowell scored Houston's final points in the game on his second straight three-point shot from the left wing to tie the score at 89-89 with 1:11 left to play.

Gary Forbes made two free throws on the Minutemen's next possession and after McKiver missed a fall-away jumper, Chris Lowe made two more free throws to extend the lead to 93-89.

Houston's Lanny Smith attempted a three-point shot from the right wing that came up short. Tony Gaffney and Brower each made one of their two free throws to make the final score 95-89.

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