Jan. 15, 2008
The University of Houston men's basketball team opens its 2007-08 Conference USA schedule when the Cougars travel to Dallas, Texas and play SMU on Wednesday, Jan. 16. The game tips off at 7:05 p.m. in Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus.
Houston enters the game looking to bounce back from two consecutive losses after UH closed out its non-conference regular season schedule with a 95-89 setback at Massachusetts on Jan. 2 and an 85-71 loss against Arizona on Jan. 12. The two losses came after Houston had won 10 straight games. The Cougars enter the SMU contest with an 11-3 overall record this season and are 0-1 in road games following the loss at UMass.
SMU enters Wednesday night's game with a 6-8 overall record and the Mustangs are 0-1 in Conference USA play after falling 79-66 at UTEP on Jan. 9. SMU is 6-6 in home games this season.
HOUSTON VS. SMU
Houston and SMU will meet for the 59th time when the Cougars travel to Dallas on Wednesday. UH has a 36-22 series record against the Mustangs after winning both games between the two schools last season. The Cougars won an 82-67 decision in Houston on Jan. 13 and 64-49 on Feb. 7 in Dallas. Houston also won a 69-57 contest on Feb. 11, 2006 in Houston after the Mustangs joined Conference USA in 2005-06.
Both schools also were members of the Southwest Conference from 1976-96. This marks the third time the Cougars have opened a conference schedule against the Mustangs. Houston beat SMU 60-59 in Dallas on Jan. 5, 1984 and 63-62 on Jan. 8, 1996 in Houston during the two previous SWC openers.
The series dates back to Mar. 16, 1956 when the Mustangs beat Houston 89-74 at the NCAA Tournament in Lawrence, Kan. Houston also suffered an 89-87 loss in the 1965 NCAA Tournament before winning its first game in the series in the 1967 NCAA Tournament at Lawrence, Kan.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
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 20.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
McKiver has recorded three 30-point performances and tied his own school record of nine three-point field goals in a game twice this season. He led Houston with 16 points against Arizona and 15 points at Massachusetts.
Dion Dowell averages 12.8 points per game and is the team's rebounding leader with an 8.3 average. He is one of two players to start every game this season. The other is Tafari Toney. Toney is averaging 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game after netting 26 points and 12 rebounds in Houston's last two games.
Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.15 per game after recording five assists in seven games this season. Smith also scored a season-high of 11 points against both Kentucky and Massachusetts. Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 10.3 points per game and scored in double figures seven times this season. Houston's other freshman guard Zamal Nixon is averaging 9.1 points per game after he scored a career-best 24 points against Arizona.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS
SMU will be looking to win its first C-USA home opening game since joining the league in 2005-06. The Mustangs fell to Southern Miss 57-56 last season and 80-67 against UTEP in their first C-USA game ever in 2005-06. The Mustangs have six players averaging seven points or greater. Heading the list is senior guard Jon Killen with 11.6. Junior center Bamba Fall is averaging 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while Houston native Derrick Roberts averages 9.9 points. Papa Dia, a freshman forward from St. Louis, is chipping in 9.4 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds per game, while freshman swingman Alex Malone averages 8.4 points and freshman guard Mike Walker is averaging 7.0 points per game.
Following the SMU game, Houston will play its first Conference USA home game this season when the Cougars play host to UTEP at 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 19. The Miners are 11-4 this season and won their first two C-USA home games against SMU and Rice. UTEP beat SMU 79-66 on January 9 and Rice 71-43 last Saturday. The Miners will not play again until Saturday's nationally-televised game at Houston.
TIME CHANGES FOR UPCOMING GAMES
Tip-off times for two University of Houston home games have changed from earlier published times. The first is Saturday's game against UTEP this Saturday. The game was moved to 1:00 p.m. after UH was selected to host the East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game at 6:00 p.m. Saturday night. The second change is on Jan. 30 when the Cougars play host to Memphis at 7:00 p.m.