March 25, 2008
TULSA, Okla. - The University of Houston men's basketball team returns to action at 8 p.m., Wednesday, when it faces Conference USA rival Tulsa in the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The Cougars (24-9) earned their place in the semifinals with a dominating 91-67 win over Valparaiso on Monday at Hofheinz Pavilion. In that game, senior guard Robert McKiver scored a game-high 33 points - his eighth 30-point game of the 2007-08 campaign - while sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis poured in a career-best 28 points, including seven 3-pointers.
While McKiver and Lewis were handling business outside of the arc, senior forward Tafari Toney carried the load on the inside. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native finished with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the second double-double of his career.
McKiver leads the Cougars and ranks second in Conference USA with 23.4 points per game. Senior forward Dion Dowell is tops with 6.9 rebounds per contest with Toney a close second at 6.3 boards per game.
Fans can hear Wednesday's game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Carl Dukes providing color analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tip-off.
The game will be televised live on Fox College Sports with Michael Reghi calling the play-by-play action and Bob Sundvold providing color analysis on DirecTV channel 669.
Fans should contact their local cable provider to determine if Fox College Sports is available in your area. FCS is normally available as part of a premium sports package. To request FCS in their area, fans should call 877-2GETFCS.
For the third consecutive year, the Cougars will meet Tulsa on the hardwood. UH owns a 19-16 (.542) record in the all-time series, which began during the 1950-51 season but has been played at least once every year since the 2006-07 campaign.
Tulsa will have revenge on its mind in the CBI semifinals. UH enjoyed a 92-81 win over Tulsa on Feb. 6 at Hofheinz Pavilion, as McKiver led the way with a game-high 33 points. The Cougars raced out to a 54-40 lead at halftime and never looked back in winning the lone regular-season meeting.
The Cougars come into Wednesday's semifinal of the College Basketball Invitational on a five-game winning streak against Tulsa and have won eight of their last nine against the Golden Hurricane. Only a 75-71 loss to Tulsa on Dec. 29, 1988, during the Rainbow Classic prevents a longer streak.
Tulsa has posted a 9-7 (.563) all-time record against the Cougars in Oklahoma. However, the Cougars bring a four-game road winning streak over the Golden Hurricane into Wednesday's game. The Cougars have not lost in Tulsa since an 88-80 setback on Feb. 28, 1963.
Wednesday's game marks the second time that these two teams have squared off in the postseason. The Cougars enjoyed a 78-74 win over the Golden Hurricane on March 13, 1982, during the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.
This also will be the first time in school history that the Cougars have faced an active conference opponent in the postseason.
Tulsa (22-13) enters Wednesday's game as winners of six of its last seven games, including back-to-back home wins against Miami (Ohio) and Utah to open the College Basketball Invitational. Ben Uzoh leads the Golden Hurricane with 15.5 points, while Jerome Jordan averages 10.1 points and team bests of 7.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.