Jan. 26, 2008
The University of Houston men's basketball team looks to win its fourth straight Conference USA game when the Cougars return to the friendly confines of Guy V. Lewis Court at Hofheinz Pavilion and play host to Marshall University this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. The Cougars enter the game with a 14-3 overall record and are 3-0 in Conference USA play after beating cross-town rival Rice University at Reliant Arena last Wednesday night. The Thundering Herd is 10-7 overall this season after falling 66-64 against intrastate rival West Virginia at the Charleston last Wednesday. Marshall improved to 2-2 in C-USA play with a 62-57 victory over UAB in Huntington, W. Va. last Saturday.
HOUSTON VS. MARSHALL
Houston enters Saturday night's game with a 3-0 series record against Marshall after winning 77-61 on Jan. 27, 2007 at Huntington and 69-56 in Houston on Jan. 28, 2006 after the Thundering Herd joined Conference USA. The series began with Houston winning 102-93 in New York on Feb. 1, 1968.
LAST MEETING AGAINST MARSHALL
Robert McKiver and Oliver Lafayette combined for 35 points and all five Houston starters finished in double figures as the Cougars ran past Marshall 77-61 in the Henderson Center on Jan. 27, 2007. McKiver scored 19 points and Lafayette added 16 points before fouling out with 2:18 left to play. In addition to McKiver and Lafayette, Jahmar Thorpe scored 12 points, Marcus Malone added 11 and Dion Dowell finished with 10. Mark Dorris scored 21 points for Marshall and Markel Humphrey had 15.
Houston jumped out of the gates early as the Cougars made the first three shots of the game. McKiver opened the game with a jumper from the top of the key. Lafayette nailed a three-point shot just left of the key and Thorpe hit a jump shot from the free throw line.
After Marshall tied the score at 7-7, Houston used a full-court press to take over the game. The Cougars forced 13 first-half turnovers and jumped out to a 27-12 lead midway through the second half.
With the score tied 7-7, Houston used a full-court press to take over, forcing 13 first-half turnovers and jumping to a 27-12 lead midway through the first half. Lafayette scored 13 first-half points as Houston raced to a 44-26 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Thundering Herd went to a 2-3 zone and trimmed the deficit to 65-56 with 4:38 remaining to play. After Marshall closed to within nine, Malone hit a pair of three-point jumpers from the left wing to push the lead back to 15. He also made two free throws with 1:24 left to extend Houston's lead to 77-60.
Houston finished the game making 18-of-22 free throws and 11 3-pointers. McKiver went 11-of-12 from the line.
LAST TIME IN HOUSTON
Sam Anderson scored 11 of his career-high 13 points in the first half as the University of Houston men's basketball team dismissed Marshall, 69-56, at Hofheinz Pavilion on Jan. 28, 2006 in the first Conference USA contest between the two schools.
Ramon Dyer added 12 points to go along with a game-high and season-best 12 rebounds as well as a career-best six blocks. It was Dyer's first double-double of the season and his third of his Cougar career.
Chris Lawson and Lanny Smith chipped in nine points apiece for the victors, while Oliver Lafayette added five steals on the defensive side. It was the fifth time that season that Lafayette has reached that feat.
With Marshall leading 17-14 at the 9:35 mark in the opening half, Anderson sank the first of three consecutive baskets that put Houston in the lead, 20-17.
The Thundering Herd hung tough, cutting the deficit to 23-22 on a lay-up by Chris Ross with 3:20 to go. Anderson responded knocking down a jumper and his first career three-point bucket at the top of key giving Houston a 28-23 lead heading into the locker room.
Marshall started the second half on a 7-1 spurt, grabbing a 30-29 advantage on a Joe Mills triple with 16:12 remaining in the game.
The Cougars fought back with a 16-5 run of its own over the next five minutes as four Houston players scored. Brian Latham canned a pair of three-point shots, while Dyer added five points of his own during the spurt that allowed Houston to take control of the game with a 47-35 advantage.
The Thundering Herd got within seven points on two separate occasions, the last at the 5:30 mark, but the Cougars closed the game scoring 12 of the final 18 points of the game for the 69-56 victory.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
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 averages 19.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
McKiver recorded his eighth 20-point game of the season at SMU and has recorded three 30-point performances this season. He also has tied his own school record of nine three-point field goals in a game twice this season.
Dion Dowell averages 12.2 points per game and is the team's rebounding leader with a 7.8 average. The only player to start every game this season is senior forward Tafari Toney, who is averaging 7.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game after netting 58 points and 40 rebounds in Houston's last five games.
Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.5 per game after recording five assists in 10 games this season. Smith also scored a season-high of 12 points at Massachusetts and 11 points against Kentucky.
Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 9.0 points per game and has scored in double figures seven times this season. Sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis is averaging 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds after posting a career-best 17 points and five rebounds against UTEP, 16 points and five rebounds against SMU and 10 points and five boards against Rice.
Houston's other freshman guard Zamal Nixon is averaging 7.7 points per game and has scored a career-best 24 points against Arizona.
SCOUTING THE HERD
Donnie Jones is in his first season as head coach at Marshall and has led the Thundering Herd to a 10-7 record this season, including a 2-2 mark in Conference USA play after beating UAB 62-57 in Huntington on Jan. 19. Marshall suffered a 66-64 setback against intrastate rival West Virginia in a non-conference game last Wednesday night.
Junior guard Markel Humphrey leads Marshall with 14.2 points per game, but has missed the last two contests with a foot injury. His availability for Saturday night's game at Houston will be a game-time decision.
Senior Mark Dorris is averaging 13.8 points and 4.5 rebounds after netting 20 points at West Virginia. Freshman forward averages 11.5 points and leads the team in rebounding with a 6.7 average.
LAST TIME OUT
Houston used one of its best defensive efforts of the season to beat cross-town rival Rice 69-60 in front of 1,175 last Wednesday night at Reliant Arena.
The Cougars collected a season-best 17 steals and forced Rice to commit 29 turnovers to win its 13th game in the last 15 outings. Houston used a 10-5 run midway through the first half to take a 26-22 lead. The Owls fought back take a 30-29 lead after Patrick Britton scored on a three-point play with a lay-up and a free throw.
Houston's Robert McKiver, who led the Cougars with 18 points, made two free throws to give Houston a 31-30 lead. After Rice's Rodney Foster made one of his two free throws to tie the score, junior center Marcus Cousin made a lay-up to give the Cougars the lead the rest of the half. After Pierre Beasley made one of his two free throws for the Owls, McKiver added two more free throws with 3:35 remaining in the opening half to give the Cougars a 35-32 lead.
After Foster made two more free throws, McKiver scored four straight points on a field goal and a pair of free throws to give Houston's its biggest lead in the half, 39-34. Paulius Packevicius made a jump shot in the lane with 43 seconds left to make the halftime score 39-36. The Cougars were caught back on their heels in the opening minutes of the second half as Rice used a 7-0 run to take a 43-39 lead with 15:40 left to play.
Houston got back into contention with an 11-1 run of its own. Zamal Nixon began the run when he nailed a three-point jumper from the top of the key to give the Cougars a six-point cushion, 50-44 with 10:31 remaining in the game. DaShaun Williams and Marcus Cousin each scored four points to account for Houston's other eight points. After Nixon nailed his trey, Williams scored two consecutive lay-ups. The first came after he stole the ball from Foster and he scored the second after Lanny Smith hit him in back of Rice's zone defense. Cousin tipped in McKiver's missed lay-up and nailed a jump shot on the left baseline.
The Cougars never trailed again as they closed the game making 11 of their 14 free throws down the stretch to preserve a 69-60 victory. Williams came off the bench and set two career highs with nine rebounds and four steals. Packevicius led four Owls in double digits with 16 points and a career- and game-high 20 rebounds. Patrick Britton and Rodney Foster scored 14 points apiece and Lawrence Ghoram scored 10.