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Volume 4, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

UH makes significant Gaines; Knight impressed

By Jake McKim
Breaking News Staff

Before Friday, the UH men's basketball team was average at best.

With one roster addition -- prized sophomore transfer Kevin Gaines -- the Cougars (5-3) have been transformed into a team that has a chance to win every time it steps on the court.

Gaines became eligible Friday against Texas Tech after sitting out the one year required by the NCAA for transfers. It wasn't the smoothest of debuts as Gaines looked as rusty as an unkempt '77 Chevrolet.

His teammates didn't look comfortable with Gaines either, failing to catch passes and not finding the right spot. This awkwardness resulted in a 71-64 defeat to Bobby Knight's boys. 

UH sophomore guard Kevin Gaines shoots over Texas Tech's Kasib Powell during UH's 71-64 loss at Compaq Center on Friday.
Kevin Harwerth/Breaking News
Despite the rough start, it was obvious even to Knight the Cougars are a team on the rise and one that will be tough to beat in the near future.

"I was impressed with Houston's play," Knight said. "They were the toughest team we've played thus far. I think they're gonna be very difficult to play against."

Gaines finished with eight points on 3 of 9 shooting and six assists. Senior center Patrick Okafor finished with 15 points and eight rebounds and junior forward Louis Truscott netted 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

The Red Raiders were led by center Andy Ellis who scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Guards Andre Emmett and Will Chavis contributed 14 points each helping their team make up a 33-31 deficit at halftime. 

"I didn't think that we played really well in the first half," Knight said. "We made three of the dumbest plays I've seen in my life at the end of the first half. But Pawel (Storozynski) played within himself and helped us get the lead in the second half."

UH head coach Ray McCallum seemed to be pleased with his team's performance despite the loss and added a note of caution when sizing up Gaines' first-game contribution.

"I told my team I was really proud of their effort," McCallum said. "For Kevin, playing in the Compaq Center in front of a lot of people is a tough way to start but without him we wouldn't have been able to even stay in the game."

Sunday was a different story for the Cougars as they took advantage of their newfound talent and trounced Southwest Texas State 89-62 at Hofheinz Pavilion.

This time Gaines was unstoppable, as he powered down the lane, slashed through defenders, made acrobatic layups and dished off to teammates to finish with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Truscott and Okafor were their usual reliable selves, scoring 15 points a piece. Junior Jeremee McGuire added 11 points off the bench.

The Cougars were always in control of this one, jumping out to a 28-3 lead and never allowing the Bobcats to creep within less than 24.

The Cougars will next take on the Louisiana State Tigers in Baton Rouge, La. at 7 p.m. Thursday. They then return home Sunday to face North Carolina State, the team they lost to in the 1983 national championship game, at 2:30 p.m.

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