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Volume 2, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

Heated contests give fans a glimpse of what's to come

By Jake McKim
Staff Writer

UH basketball fans had the opportunity to peer into the crystal ball this past week to see what hoops life on campus may be like in the near future.

UH head men's basketball coach Clyde Drexler's Cougars faced off against two national powerhouses in No. 2 Connecticut and No. 18 Texas, Thursday and Sunday respectively, and surprisingly held their own, avoiding looking like chumps whose only purpose was to serve as punching bags for the highly ranked teams.

UConn came strolling into Hofheinz Pavilion with an 8-1 record, looking relaxed as a sleeping cat curled up in a La-Z-Boy. The arena buzzed like a swarm of angry yellowjackets, with the crowd doing everything it could to pump up the smaller, undermanned Cougars.

However, with a bulky front-line and speed demons in the backcourt including superstar Khalid El-Amin, UConn started off slowly but soon turned on the afterburners to put the score at 48-27 by halftime.

UH looked completely dispirited with about eight minutes to play but then mounted one of the greatest comebacks in school history against the dominant Huskies.

The scoreboard read 82-76 in favor of UConn, but it was the UH basketball team that could exit the court with heads held high, and it was the Huskies who felt demoralized.

George Williams (middle) followed a nine-point, 13-rebound performance against Connecticut with 23 points and 12 boards against Texas on Sunday. 

Kevin Harwerth/Breaking News

"We've got a lot of pride," senior point guard Gee Gervin said.

"Our guys never quit," Drexler added. "The effort was fantastic."

Sunday, the Cougars traveled to Austin to take on the UT Longhorns and once again proved they belonged in the same building with a tough, battle-tested team. 

In the end, UH's inferior size let the team fold to the bigger, stronger Longhorns. But what made the game so enjoyable for Cougar fans to watch was the building blocks the team seemed to be stacking for the future.

"We're beginning to turn the corner," Drexler said optimistically. "Our team is getting better with each and every game."

With incredibly talented freshman forward George Williams, a young and quick backcourt including sophomore Bernard Smith and freshman Marcus Oliver and a recruiting class some college basketball insiders have listed is one of the top five in the nation, the future looks extremely bright for UH basketball.

6-9 Alton Ford from Milby high school is considered one of the top 10 recruits in the nation and will provide the inside firepower the Cougars so desperately lack now. In addition, big bodies Cedric Taylor, Patrick Okafor and Chris Booker will make Clyde's team a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come.

Cougar fans have a lot to get excited about when it comes to their men's basketball team in the coming years, especially with the effort put forth by the 1999-2000 team.

"Our guys weren't backing down and they came out to compete," Drexler said, beaming like a proud father.

UH backers hope his kids will grow and mature into something special to watch in the new millennium.

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