Men's Basketball Team Travels To Tulane

Feb. 8, 2008

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The University of Houston men's basketball team looks to win its third straight game and seventh game in the last eight outings when the Cougars travel to Tulane this Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

The Cougars enter the game with a 17-4 overall record this season after winning their sixth Conference USA game with a 92-81 victory over Tulsa last Wednesday night and an 84-81 victory at UCF on Feb. 2. Those two wins came after Houston suffered an 89-77 loss against top-ranked Memphis on Jan. 30. The Cougars began C-USA play with wins against SMU, UTEP, Rice and Marshall.

Tulane is looking to bounce back from a 66-64 loss at UTEP last Wednesday. The loss came after the Green Wave had won five straight games against Tulsa, Rice twice, SMU and East Carolina.

Houston enters Saturday's game with a 10-11 series record against Tulane after winning its last two games against the Green Wave. The Cougars won 78-70 last season in Houston after beating the Green Wave 82-57 in New Orleans. The series began Dec. 11, 1946 in New Orleans when Tulane won a 62-49 decision. The Cougars have a 3-6 record in games played at New Orleans overall and won its first game in Fogelman Arena on Feb. 21, 2001. Houston also won a 69-66 victory on Jan. 8, 2002. The Cougars dropped the next two games in New Orleans before winning on Jan. 25, 2006.

Oliver Lafayette scored 19 points and Brian Latham added a season-high 18 points and six assists to lead Houston to an 82-57 victory at Tulane.

Houston drained 60 percent (21-of-58) of its shots in the first half and held the Green Wave to 20 second-half points.

Lafayette made five of Houston's 14 three-pointers, while Ramon Dyer scored 14 points and Lanny Smith added 11 for the Cougars.

With the game tied 13-13 with 15:45 left to play in the first half, Houston used 15-4 run to take control of the game. The Cougars led 31-19 when Lafayette made back-to-back treys around a dunk by Tulane's Donnie Stith to extend Houston's lead to 34-21 with 10:07 remaining in the opening period. The Cougars closed out the first half with a 25-16 run to take a 59-37 lead into halftime.

Houston came back to score the first eight points in the second half on a three-point basket by Smith, a lay-up and free throw by Latham and a baseline jump shot by Jahmar Thorpe to extend its lead to 67-37. The Cougars coasted the rest of the way to win its first game against the Green Wave since 2002.

Matt Wheaton led Tulane with 11 points, as the Cougars held Tulane's bigger post players Quincy Davis and David Gomez to nine points each.

Oliver Lafayette and Robert McKiver scored 24 points each and Jahmar Thorpe registered his second double-double performance of the season to lead Houston to a 78-70 comeback victory over Tulane in Hofheinz Pavilion. Lafayette and McKiver were driving to the basket and setting up each other for open three-point shots, leading to Lafayette making four of his seven three-point attempts and McKiver adding two more treys. The increased penetration led to the two guards shooting a combined 12 of 13 shooting at the free-throw line. McKiver made eight of his nine free throws, while Lafayette finished the game making all four of his during final two minutes of the game.

Thorpe also proved to be a big factor early in the game finished the first half with six points and seven rebounds en route to accumulating 12 points and 10 boards.

Houston used a pair of decisive runs in each half to take control of the game for the comeback victory.

The first came after Tulane had opened up a 13-7 lead. Dion Dowell and Lafayette nailed back-to-back three-point shots to tie the score, and McKiver made a lay-up to give Houston its first lead of the game. The Green Wave hung tough early in the game as they answered with a 9-0 run of their own. Tulane was leading, 28-21, when the Cougars closed the half with a 14-5 run to take a 35-33 lead into halftime.

In the second half Houston opened up a 10-point lead with 15:00 minutes to play when Lafayette hit a lay-up and a three-point shot, McKiver added a jumper and Dowell connected on a three-point shot on the right baseline to make the score, 49-39.

Houston increased its lead to as many as 12 points and led 67-56 when Tulane rallied one last time and closed to within 70-67 with 1:57 left to play.

That was as close as the Green Wave could get as Lafayette and McKiver combined to make six straight free throws, while Charlie Jones and Thorpe each made one of their two tries to help Houston pull away with a 78-70 victory.

Jones finished the game with three assists and played 12 key minutes for the Cougars. Nick Mosley added four points, three rebounds and three blocked shots, while Toney added five points and six rebounds.

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 21.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

For the first time in his career, McKiver recorded back-to-back 30-point performances with 31 points at UCF and 33 points against Tulsa. He also has notched 20 points in nine games, and has registered five 30-point performances overall 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 7.1 average. The only player to start every game this season is senior forward Tafari Toney, who is averaging 7.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Lanny Smith leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game and averages 5.9 points per game as well. Smith dished out five assists for the 12th time this season against Tulsa.

Sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis returned to the starting lineup and score 15 points against the Golden Hurricane. He is averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game overall. He netted a career-best 17 points against UTEP, 16 points against SMU and 10 at Rice. Freshman guard Brockeith Pane is averaging 8.0 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 6 points against Tulsa and 17 points at UCF.

Tulane enters Saturday's game with a 9-2 record in home games this season, including a 2-1 mark in Conference USA home games.

Senior forward David Gomez, who is leading the team with 14.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, led Tulane with 18 points and nine rebounds at UTEP. Kevin Sims is averaging 12.5 points and 4.3 assists after he handed out seven assists at UTEP.

Junior forward Robert Louisme is averaging 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Donnavan Stith chips in with 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.

Senior guard Robert McKiver picked right up where he left off last Saturday night when he poured in a game-high 33 points to lead Houston to a 92-81 win over Conference USA opponent Tulsa last Wednesday night in Hofheinz Pavilion.

McKiver scored 26 of his 33 in the first half after shooting 6-for-8 from behind the three-point line, 8-of-13 overall from the field and he made all four of his free throws.

The 26 points were the most points McKiver has scored in a half during his UH career and came after he netted 23 of his 31 points in the second half at UCF last Saturday night.

This also marks the first time in his career that McKiver has scored 30 points in back-to-back game. The 33 points against Tulsa also marks the fifth game this season and ninth game during the past two years in which he has scored 30 points.

He becomes the fifth player in UH history to record 30 points nine times, as he joins Elvin Hayes, Otis Birdsong, Rob Williams and Don Boldebuck to accomplish the feat.

In addition to McKiver's 33 points, senior point guard Lanny Smith added 11 points and dished out five assists for the Cougars. Sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis scored 15 points and senior forward Tafari Toney added 13 points. The Cougars' press defense kept Tulsa off-balance through the game, as UH forced 21 Golden Hurricane turnovers, leading to 23 points.

The game began with both teams exchanging baskets over the first five minutes. Tied at 8-8, the Cougars ripped off a 20-7 run to take a 28-15 advantage as McKiver sank his first four attempts from behind the three-point arc.

Tulsa kept the Cougars within striking distance, cutting UH's lead to eight at 48-40 with just over a minute left in the half.

McKiver then knocked down back-to-back treys in the final minute to push the Cougar advantage to 14, as Houston took a 54-40 lead into halftime. After trailing by as many as 17 in the second half, Tulsa rode a 7-2 run to get within 10 at 77-67 with 7:45 left to play. The Golden Hurricane couldn't get any closer, as Houston responded with a 15-6 run of its own to push the lead to 19 at 92-73. Five different Cougars scored during that stretch with Toney netting five, Smith and Lewis scoring three each, along with Dowell and McKiver tallying two each.

McKiver's jumper capped the rally as Houston held on for a 92-81 victory.

Houston enters the Tulane game with a 3-1 record in road games after winning its first three Conference USA road contests against SMU, Rice and UCF. The lone loss this season came at Massachusetts on Jan. 2.

The Cougars have a 2-1 record in neutral site games after finishing in fourth place at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 15-18. Houston won its final two games in the tournament over Marist and College of Charleston after suffering a 73-72 loss against VCU in the first game.



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