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Volume 2, Issue 1                            University of Houston

Kevin Harwerth/Breaking News

The Cougars' George Williams slams in two of his 16 points in Houston's 90-72 win over Valporaiso at Compaq Center on Saturday.


Kevin Harwerth/Breaking News

George Williams (42) catches an alley-oop pass from Gee Gervin (not pictured) before slamming it down during Houston's win over Valporaiso at Compaq Center.

Cougars defeat Rice, Valpo before two-game road trip

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

The UH men's basketball team is enjoying a three-game winning streak as it heads to Monroe, La., tonight to begin a two-game road trip.

On Dec. 7, the Cougars defeated intra-city rival Rice 84-71 in an overtime thriller at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Gee Gervin scored 28 points to go along with his five assists as Houston was able to hold the Owls to four overtime points.

"This really should have been a 30-point win," UH head coach Clyde Drexler said. "We got off to a great start, then kind of fell asleep in the second half. But give (the Owls) credit. They came back and forced the overtime."

Rice trailed 67-58 with 2:05 remaining in regulation, but freshman guard Michael Walton sank three unanswered three-pointers to knot the game at 67 with 27 seconds left.

Gervin and Rice's T.J. McKenzie both missed potential game-winning jumpers to lead to the overtime period.

The Cougars then came out with a 10-2 run, which pretty much sealed the deal for Houston.

"This was a great game for both teams," Rice head coach Willis Wilson said. "I thought our guys played very hard, but Houston just played better. A lot of our guys got into foul trouble, which did hurt us quite a bit. In fact, it was probably the difference in the game, but give Coach Drexler and his team credit. They played better basketball out there tonight."

Houston led at halftime 44-29 and appeared to be running away with the game. But the Owls came out of the locker room and shot lights out from the perimeter, cutting the lead to five with 10:12 remaining.

Rice forced overtime, but the Cougars proved to be too much. The Owls had a chance to trim the lead with less than a minute remaining, but a key charging foul called on Walton brought Gervin to the line and the senior guard sank both free throws to put the final nail in the coffin.

The Owls were led by guard Mike Wilks' 17 points and four assists. Reverve Nick Robison scored 16 points off the bench. The foul-laden frontcourt of the Owls were held to 20 points collectively.

Senior forward Kenny Younger tied the entire Rice frontcourt with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Younger also led the Cougars with 12 rebounds. Freshman George Williams scored 16 points and grabbed nine boards.

On Saturday, the Cougars played a home game away from home as they hosted The Houston Charity Basketball Classic at Compaq Center. Rice and UH welcomed Texas A&M and Valporaiso, respectively, to the first annual event.

"I think it's a great event that raises money for a great cause," Drexler said of the Houston Charity Basketball Classic, which raises money for the Tomjanovich Foundation, Houston Children's Chariy and Star of Hope.

"Hopefully we can continue this every year and attract big schools to come and play," Drexler said. "It's a great way to raise money for charity, and itís a chance for the city of Houston and our university to see some great basketball."

Texas A&M and Rice participated in the first half of the double header. The Aggies defeated hometown Rice 56-53.

Houston then took the court against Valporaiso in UHís first game at Compaq Center since 1984. It was also Drexler's first game to coach on his former NBA home court.

The Cougars rolled past the Crusaders 90-72 as five players scored in double figures for Drexler's squad.

"It was a great game with a very balanced attack," Drexler said. "But the thing that stood out the most was the six turnovers. Six turnovers in an entire game is just amazing. I'll take that any night."

Younger led the way for UH with 23 points and nine rebounds. Gervin scored 18 points on 5-for-6 shooting, dished out two assists and committed no turnovers. He also swished a three-pointer from the NBA three-point line.

Williams scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including three monster dunks. Junior Chad Hendrick, who was placed in the starting lineup to fill in for the injured Bernard Smith, scored 14 points, including two three-pointers.

"It was great for the seniors to play here in an NBA atmosphere," Drexler said. "I knew Gee was going to try that NBA three-pointer. He's such a great shooter, and I knew he was going to try a couple of them. He did try one and it just happened to fall in."

"It was great playing on the Rockets' court," Gervin said. "I know for us seniors, Kenny and I were just really pumped when we starting shooting around out there. This is the first time I've been here in a long time. It was called The Summit the last time I was here."

After falling behind by 10 points in the first 9:35 of the game, Houston came storming back, led by the play of Hendrick and Younger.

Valporaiso's Ivan Vujic, a 6-11 senior from Croatia, gave the Cougars headaches in the low block, but forwards Jake Ballis and Tega Moceanu did enough dirty work to force the Croatian giant to foul out in the second half.

"He's a great addition to our team," Valporaiso head coach Homer Drew said of Vujic. "He brings us a huge presence inside, and you could tell that (the Cougars) were having trouble with him in the early parts of the game."

"That guy's just big. Big body, big hair, he's just huge," Drexler said of Vujic, whose frame is accented with a curly, bushy hairdo. "He gave us a lot of trouble under the basket, but Jake Ballis, Tega Moceanu and Kenny Younger did a great job of holding him down."

Houston's Marcus Oliver came off the bench to score 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting. He also grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists and committed no turnovers.

The Cougars will take on Louisiana-Monroe tonight in Monroe before traveling to Landover, Md., to take on Georgetown on Saturday.

Houston will be at Hofheinz Pavilion again on Dec. 21 when the Cougars host Sacramento State at 7:35 p.m.

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