HOUSTON, Texas-- The University of Houston used a dominating frontline attack in the second half to overpower Team Ezybonds of Australia, 91-72, at Hofheinz Pavilion on Friday, November 10. After trading baskets with the Australians late in the first half of the game, the Cougars found themselves trailing 40-39 at halftime. Houston head coach Ray McCallum challenged his troops during the intermission and the Cougars responded in overpowering fashion.
"In the second half, I thought we came out with great intensity," said McCallum. "We began limiting them to one shot and our quickness made it difficult for them." Houston shot a blazing 62 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Australians, 22-11 in the second half.
"I thought that this team has the potential to score," said McCallum. "But, we were unconscious with our shooting tonight."
Freshman Alton Ford made his first collegiate start and recorded his second double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while senior swingman Chad Hendrick made 7 of his 10 field goal tries, including all three of his shot behind the three-point line to score 19 points. In addition to Hendrick, Houston's other trio of guards, Bernard Smith, Dominic Smith and Marcus Oliver shot a combined 8 of 12 from the field. Bernard Smith made four of his field goal tries, including his only three-point attempt to score nine points, while Dominic Smith made two of his three field goal tries and Oliver shot 2 of 4 from the field.
Junior college transfer Patrick Okafor also made his first start for the Cougars and tallied 13 points and seven rebounds. Okafor scored seven points and grabbed six of his rebounds in the second half. "Coach McCallum questioned our toughness beating screens and getting rebounds at halftime," said Okafor. "We were much tougher on the boards in the second half."
The Cougars played without preseason All-Conference USA forward George Williams, who is questionable for Houston's season-opening game against Air Force on November 16 in a BCA Classic first round game at Winston Salem, N.C..
Williams suffered the injury in practice on Wednesday, which was diagnosed as a strained calf muscle in
his left leg.
Following the Air Force game, Houston will play either Wake Forest or Mount St. Mary's College in
the second round of the tournament on November 17. The Cougars will also play at Rice on November
21 before playing their first regular season home game against Southwest Texas State on November 25
at 7:00 p.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion.