Men's Hoops Opens C-USA Championship vs. East Carolina on Wednesday

March 8, 2010

(12) EAST CAROLINA PIRATES (10-20 • 4-12 C-USA) vs. (5) HOUSTON COUGARS (15-15 • 7-9 C-USA)
March 10, 2010 • BOK Center (19,119) • Tulsa, Okla. • Noon

Houston-ISP Sports Radio Network • SportsTalk 790 AM-Houston • Tom Franklin, PxP
Pregame show begins at 11:45 a.m.
LIVE VIDEO: live video broadcast
LIVE STATS: GameTracker

C-USA Championship Interactive Bracket
Houston Notes Get Acrobat Reader
East Carolina Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Conference USA Notebook Get Acrobat Reader

TULSA, Okla. - After 30 regular-season games, the University of Houston men's basketball team opens the postseason when it faces No. 10 seed East Carolina at noon, Wednesday, during the first round of the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship at the BOK Center.

Seeded No. 7, the Cougars enter Wednesday's game on the heels of a surprising 79-76 loss at Conference USA-rival Tulane on Saturday during the regular-season finale for both teams. Despite trailing by as many as 19 points, the Cougars overcame that deficit and eventually grabbed a second-half lead before the Green Wave pulled away in the final two minutes.

Against the Green Wave, senior guard Aubrey Coleman tied his career high with 38 points on 13-of-21 shooting and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in the loss. It was his ninth 30-point game in 2009-10 and the 12th 30-point game of his career, tying with Robert McKiver for the fourth-highest total in school history.

For his impressive efforts throughout the regular season, Coleman - who also was a C-USA Player of the Week five times - was named to the All-Conference USA First Team on Monday for the second straight season.

Although known for his offensive numbers, Coleman also leads the Cougars and ranks among the league's top-10 leaders with 7.5 rebounds per game and ranks second nationally with 2.7 steals per contest. If he can regain and maintain the national lead from Prairie View A&M's Chris Jones, Coleman would become the first player in NCAA Division I history to lead the country in scoring and steals in the same game.

With only 36 more points, he will move past McKiver on the Cougars' scoring chart and become the greatest two-year scorer in school history.

Senior guard Kelvin Lewis, who will appear in his 94th consecutive game Wednesday, ranks second on the team with 15.1 points per game and gives the Cougars two of the league's top-10 scorers.

The Fort Worth, Texas, native also ranks among the C-USA and national leaders in 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goals per game and will finish his career among the Cougars' top-10 career leaders in 3-point field goals, 3-point field goal attempts, 3-point field-goal percentage and free throw percentage.

Sophomore point guard Desmond Wade leads the Cougars and ranks third in the league with 4.9 assists per game. The Linden, N.J., native became only the third player in school history to post back-to-back seasons with 100+ assists as a freshman and sophomore, joining Derrick Daniels and Rob Williams.

Fans can hear Wednesday's game live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin at 11:45 a.m.

Fans can follow live stats at UHCougars.com by clicking the GameTracker link.

Fans can watch all televised Cougar men's and women's basketball games at the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship at Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill.

Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill, the official watch party location for Houston Athletics, is located at 6225 Washington Ave. in Houston.

East Carolina (10-20 • 4-12 C-USA) enters Wednesday's first-round game as losers of three of its last four games, including a 75-65 setback against Southern Miss in the most recent action on Saturday.

Against the Golden Eagles, guard Brock Young led the Pirates with 15 points, four assists and a pair of steals, while forward Darrius Morrow finished with 13 points and a team-high five rebounds. DaQuan Joyner came off the bench to pour in 10 points with five rebounds in the loss.

This season, Young leads the Pirates with 15.3 points and 5.5 assists per game. Morrow stands second with 12.3 points per game but leads the squad with 6.6 boards per contest. Jamar Abrams is the last Pirate to average double-digit points with 11.3 per game.

Now in his third season at East Carolina, Mack McCarthy has compiled a 34-55 (.382) record at the helm of the Pirates' bench. In more than 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach, McCarthy has assembled a 343-232 (.597) career record. He previously served as a head coach at Chattanooga (1985-97) and VCU (1998-02) before taking over at East Carolina in 2007.

McCarthy is 1-2 (.333) against Houston during his career.

Following the Pirates' loss to Southern Miss on Saturday, McCarthy announced he would step down as head coach at the end of the 2009-10 season and move into a fundraising position within the ECU Athletics Department.

For the seventh straight season (and the second time in 2009-10), the Cougars meet East Carolina in men's basketball. The Cougars own a 7-2 (.778) lead in the series, which began Feb. 23, 2002, and has been played at least once every season since the 2003-04 campaign.

Entering Wednesday's game, Houston has won seven of the last eight games against the Pirates, including a 74-55 win in Greenville, N.C., on Jan. 16 in the most recent action.

Only an 84-83 loss on March 1, 2008, in Greenville, N.C., prevents a much longer Cougar streak.

The early series was close with neither team winning by more than 10 points through the first five games. However, the Cougars have enjoyed tremendous success in their last three victories, winning by an average of 17.0 points per game.

Houston has posted a 1-0 record against East Carolina at the league's annual postseason event. The Cougars were ECU's first opponent at the C-USA Championship, taking a 74-55 win on March 6, 2002, at Firstar Center in Cincinnati.

Wednesday's game also will be the second time the two teams have squared off at a neutral site.

With a win against No. 10 East Carolina, the Cougars advance to the Conference USA Championship quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Memphis.

That quarterfinal matchup would begin at noon, Thursday, at the BOK Center and be aired live on CBS College Sports with Roger Twibell calling the play-by-play action and Sean Farnham providing analysis.

In 2009-10, the Cougars will compete at the Conference USA Championship for the sixth consecutive season and the 13th time in the last 14 years. Only an absence from the 2004 Championship prevents a much longer Cougar streak.

UH has posted an 8-12 (.400) all-time record during the C-USA postseason extravaganza and advanced to the semifinals in three of the last four seasons.

This marks the first time that the Conference USA Championship has been played in Tulsa.

With their appearance at the 2010 Conference USA Championship, the Cougars are competing in their conference postseason event for the sixth consecutive season and the 33rd time in the last 34 seasons. Only an absence from the 2004 Championship prevents a much longer streak.

During their history, the Cougars have posted a 36-28 (.563) all-time record during conference postseason tournaments. UH has posted an 8-12 (.400) record at the C-USA Championship. However, the Cougars finished with an impressive 28-16 (.636) all-time record in Southwest Conference Tournament play. In fact, the Cougars made nine appearances in the SWC Tournament championship game - including four straight from 1981 to 1984 - winning crowns in 1992, 1984, 1983, 1981 and 1978.

THE PULSE WITH Tom Penders Fans are invited to each broadcast of The Pulse with Tom Penders from various restaurants throughout Houston.

The radio show airs live from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The location, date and time for the final broadcast will be announced at a later date as the Cougars compete at the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship in Tulsa, Okla., beginning Wednesday.

The show can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com and will be hosted by the "Voice of the Cougars" Tom Franklin.

Fans are invited to join Penders and Franklin at the selected restaurant each week as the duo discusses recent Cougar Basketball action and upcoming games, college basketball, the world of sports and much more.

Fans also can click the "Ask Coach Penders" button on the main page at UHCougars.com to submit a question that could be asked on the show.



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