Volume 9, Issue 3 University of Houston
Houston set for conference showdown
with East Carolina
by JONG LEE
It has been eight games since the return of junior guard Tye Jackson, and the Cougar women's basketball team has taken off offensively.
The Cougars’ (4-10, 1-3 Conference USA) offensive numbers have soared with Jackson's return from a knee injury. Houston has put up an average of 72.25 points per game since Jackson was reinserted into the lineup Dec. 6 -- the night the Cougars got their first victory against Cal State, Bakersfield.
Without Jackson, Houston averaged just fewer than 45 points per game.
“I think the team has been playing very well, and we've played well for the numbers we've had," head coach Joe Curl said. "Right now, we've been beat up, and thank God we got (Jackson) back -- she missed several games with that knee problem.
“She has started to play with more of a balance and more of a poise about her and she's not feeling like she has to carry the weight of our team, but she certainly does in some categories, like scoring.”
With only three conference games under their belt, the Cougars will host their second C-USA home game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hofheinz Pavilion against East Carolina (7-9, 2-1 C-USA).
“(ECU) is a much improved team," Curl said. "It's early in conference play, but (ECU) is 3-1 coming in. They got a good basketball team, a very experienced basketball team. They have a couple of big kids that are going to be tough to deal with, they're very well coached and we're going to play some good basketball to get by them.”
Despite Jackson’s return to the lineup the Cougars have dropped three of their last four games.
Houston, who defeated crosstown rival Rice in a thrilling 91-86 overtime win on Jan. 1, has since suffered two conference losses on the road to Tulane and Texas-El Paso.
“We've actually played some of our better basketball here in the last three outings," Curl said. “A good win against Rice, a tough loss at Tulane and a heartbreaker at UTEP. (UTEP is) a 14-1 basketball team and undefeated in conference play, and so we were right there until the last three minutes and just didn't make some shots that we normally make.
“We were encouraged because we shot over 50 percent from the floor, which has been an Achilles’ heel for us.”
The Cougars will play five of their next six games at home. It will be a vital stretch for UH, who will look to use the momentum of a two-game home winning streak to its advantage.
“We have to just take it one game at a time," Curl said. "We've been a pretty good home team. We've beaten Rice ... (and) Miami at home, but nothing is a given in the conference. We're going to have to play some good basketball, but it does help us because we haven't been a good road team.
“I think a part of that is our numbers and the youth of our team. We're really counting on some newcomers and fresh faces to play more minutes than we were hoping for them to have to play.”
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