Feb. 5, 2008
Houston - The University of Houston men's basketball team looks to win its sixth game in the last seven outings when the Cougars return to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion and play host the University of Tulsa this Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.
The Cougars enter the game with a 16-4 overall record this season after winning their fifth Conference USA game 84-81 at UCF last Saturday. The win at UCF gives Houston a 5-1 C-USA record this mark and puts the Cougars in a second-place tie with UAB in the current league standings. The win came after Houston suffered an 89-77 loss against top-ranked Memphis and won C-USA games against SMU, UTEP, Rice and Marshall.
Tulsa enters the game with a 10-9 overall record and the Golden Hurricane is 2-5 in C-USA games this season after beating SMU for the second time this season with a 72-60 triumph in Tulsa last Saturday night. The win came after the Hurricane had lost three straight C-USA games against Memphis, at UTEP and at Marshall. Tulsa won its first league game 72-71 victory at SMU on Jan. 19. The Golden Hurricane began C-USA play with a triple overtime loss at UCF and another overtime loss at Tulane.
HOUSTON vs. TULSA
Houston enters Wednesday night's game with an 18-16 series record against Tulsa in a series that began on Feb. 10, 1951 when both teams were members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Houston has won four straight games and seven of the last eight contests against the Golden Hurricane. Since Tulsa became a member of Conference USA two seasons ago, Houston won a 73-46 decision on Feb. 18, 2006 and edged the Golden Hurricane 69-67 last year in Tulsa. The Cougars also won two non-conference games against the Golden Hurricane, 79-77 in overtime on Dec. 4, 1996 in Houston and 61-57 on Nov. 29, 1997, in Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane's last win came on Dec. 29, 1988, when Tulsa won 75-71 in the second round of the Rainbow Classic.
LAST MEETING IN HOUSTON
Ramon Dyer scored 20 points and had four steals to lead Houston to a 73-46 victory over Tulsa in Hofheinz Pavilion on Feb. 18, 2006. Dyer scored 15 points and Houston used a smothering defense as the Cougars opened up a 23-1 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Golden Hurricane had seven turnovers before they hit their first shot from the field.
In the meantime, the Cougars never looked back as they opened up 36-11 lead with 1:12 remaining in the first half. Sam Anderson's lay-up with 35 seconds left gave Houston a 38-14 halftime lead. The Cougars opened up their biggest lead of 33 points with 9:11 remaining in the second half when Chris Lawson made two free throws to open up a 63-30 lead.
Lawson finished the game with a career-high 12 points and Jahmar Thorpe collected 14 points and five steals. Brian Latham scored six points to go along with his nine rebounds and career-best 10 assists. Darold Crow was the only Golden Hurricane to finish the game in double figures as he led Tulsa with 10 points.
The Golden Hurricane did not get any closer than 26 points the rest of the way.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Picked to tie UAB for second place behind Memphis in a poll of Conference USA coaches, the Cougars are led by preseason All-Conference USA selection Robert McKiver, who averages 20.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
McKiver recorded his eighth 20-point game of the season against Memphis and has recorded four 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 12.6 points per game and is the team's rebounding leader with a 7.3 average. The only player to start every game this season is senior forward Tafari Toney, who is averaging 7.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game and is averaging 5.6 points per game as well. Smith has dished out five assists in 11 games this season. Sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis is averaging 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds. He netted a career-best 17 points against UTEP, 16 points against SMU and 10 at Rice. Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 8.2 points per game and has scored in double figures eighth times this season.
Houston's other freshman guard Zamal Nixon is averaging 7.7 points per game after netting 17 points at UCF.
SCOUTING THE HURRICANE
Tulsa enters Wednesday's game looking to win its second straight game and third overall Conference USA contest after beating SMU 72-60 in Tulsa last Saturday. The Golden Hurricane have a 2-5 league record, but three of the losses have been in overtime. Tulsa began C-USA play with a triple-overtime loss at UCF, and a two-point overtime setback at Tulane before edging SMU 72-71. The other overtime loss came at Marshall (72-65) on Jan. 30.
Sophomore guard Ben Uzoh leads Tulsa in scoring with 14.6 points per game, while senior forward Calvin Walls is averaging 9.0 points and leads the Hurricane in rebounding with an 8.2 average.
Senior guard Brett McDade also averages 7.3 points and 3.4 assists, while sophomore center Jerome Jordan chips in with 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Tulsa has additional firepower off the bench with Glenn Andrews averaging 10.7 points and Rod Earls averaging 6.9 points per contest.
LAST TIME OUT
Robert McKiver scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half as Houston rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat UCF 84-81 in a Conference USA game at the new UCF Arena Saturday night. The win also marked the 600th career victory for Cougar head coach Tom Penders.
The Cougars trailed 43-32 with 17:18 left to play after UCF's Mike O'Donnell made the first of his four three-point baskets in the second half. Four Houston three-pointers, including three by McKiver, brought the Cougars to within 45-44 with 14:42 remaining.
Dion Dowell gave Houston its first lead in the second half when he netted a three-point shot from the right baseline. The Cougars extended its lead to eight before O'Donnell nailed three consecutive treys to give UCF (11-10, 4-3) a 68-67 lead with 5:06 left to play.
The two teams fought back and forth the rest of the way. After Taylor's lay-up gave the Knights their final lead 78-77 with 1:34 remaining. Kelvin Lewis' made a three-pointer with 1:13 left put Houston ahead to stay, 80-78.
Taylor's three-pointer with 4.9 seconds brought the Knights to within 82-81. After a UCF foul with no time ticking off the clock, Lanny Smith hit his second straight pair of free throws to put the Cougars back up by three. O'Donnell's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim, preserving Houston's victory. The Cougars hit 11 of 24 shots from three-point range in the second half and 16 for 42 overall from beyond the arc.
Houston also made a season-high 94.1 percent (16-17) of its free throws in the game. It is the fourth-highest single game percentage in school history and marks the second time this season the Cougars have made 90 percent of their free throws in a game. Zamal Nixon finished with 17 points for Houston, which won for the fifth time in six games.
Taylor led UCF with 31 points, including 23 in the second half. O'Donnell finished with 16 points and Tony Davis added 11.