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Monday, November 30, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 68

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'Revenue' Athletes May Not Make the Grade

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Cougars defeat IUPUI in the nick of time Saturday

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff 

William Stringfellow tipped in Kenny Younger's missed jumper at the buzzer to lift the UH men's basketball team over the Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis Jaguars 72-71 in front of 4,127 fans in Hofheinz Pavilion Saturday night.

The victory is the second for Cougar head coach Clyde Drexler in his short coaching career.

In a very evenly matched game, the Cougars (2-2) let the Jaguars back in it after an early 10-0 Houston run in the second half. IUPUI (1-3) took a one-point lead with four seconds remaining after junior guard Rodney Thomas sank two free throws.

Following the Cougars' final timeout, Gee Gervin threw a full-court pass to Younger, who caught it at the top of the three-point line. Younger drove and attempted a 15-foot jumper that clanked off the back of the rim, but Stringfellow was there to tip in the game-winning shot.

"I was just doing my job," Stringfellow said. "The shot was missed, but I'm just glad I was there to rebound the ball and tip it in. Before the game, I felt like I needed to step up my play and help my team out, and that's what I did tonight."

"Kenny was supposed to make that shot," Drexler joked, "but 'String' had to play hero. He put on a Superman shirt and tipped in the winning shot.

"But other than Kenny missing that shot, it was a great game," he said. "I'll take that victory. Give Kenny and 'String' all the credit."

IUPUI served as a tough matchup for Drexler's squad. Thomas, who came into Saturday's game shooting 62 percent from behind the arc, led the Jaguars with 18 points, including four three-pointers.

"Rodney Thomas can shoot the ball," Drexler said. "He flat-out shoots it like a pro. He uses his arms to push people off and his teammates set a lot of picks for him, and it's very effective. If he gets his feet set, he's a lights-out shooter."

In addition to Thomas, Derek Williams, Josh Fitzwater and Mohammed Witherspoon all contributed to the Jaguarsi shooting 52 percent from the field and seven-of-11 from downtown.

"We felt good about getting a win, but the game wasn't over," Thomas said about the final play. "On the last play of the game, we were going on instincts. We knew that we wanted to make them dribble the ball upcourt and take time off the clock."

"I had confidence in our big guys if (the Cougars) were going to throw a long pass that they would be there to deflect it, but it just didnit happen," Williams added. "When Stringfellow tipped it in, that just broke my heart."

For the Cougars, Younger scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with five rebounds and two assists. But it was Stringfellow who did the little things to make himself the hero of the evening.

Prior to Saturday night, the junior center/forward was averaging 12 rebounds in the Cougars' previous two games, including a career-high 13 against Rice.

Saturday, Stringfellow set two new career highs with 14 boards and four blocked shots. He also scored nine points and dished out two assists.

"I think Stringfellow won the game for (the Cougars)," IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter said. "You can talk about what Younger and the other guys did, but Stringfellow won that game.

"Defensively, we wanted to make him into a player, and he did what he was supposed to do. If he can keep playing like that, Houston will win a lot of games. He just played an absolutely great game for (Houston)."

Drexler agreed. "He had a monster game," he said of Stringfellow. "He had a big night in the post with rebounding, blocking shots and dunking the ball. I want to see more of that from him."

Sophomore swingman Chad Hendrick scored 11 points and handed out four assists while Gervin, who was limited to six shots on the night, dished out four assists.

"We knew coming into the game that we needed to take out Gee Gervin," Hunter said. "We used about four to five different defenses to try and confuse him. We even made up some defenses of our own, and I think it did confuse him at times."

The lead see-sawed in the first half, ending with a 34-34 tie at halftime. The Jaguars came out with a little run in the second half before the Cougars used their 10-0 blitz to take the lead 49-43.

But Thomas was unstoppable throughout the game. Like Hunter did on Gervin, Drexler tried a combination of defenders on the sharpshooter, but was never able to completely contain the three-point specialist.

"We started out with Torrence Botts to defend him," Drexler said of defending Thomas. "He made (Thomas) work for everything, and he started to make (Thomas) tired.

"We also threw Chad, Moses (Malone Jr.) and Willie Moore at him. They all did a great defensive job, but he's just a great shooter."

No leads were safe in the second half as both teams went on miniruns while the clock ticked down to the final minute. After taking a 70-69 lead with 10 seconds remaining, Hendrick was fouled by Thomas.

Shooting one and one, Hendrick missed the first one and Thomas wound up with the ball. Before he could even get up the court, Thomas was fouled by Stringfellow, which led to the free throws that gave the Jaguars the lead with four ticks on the clock.

The stage was set for Gervin, Younger and Stringfellow to execute the winning play for the Cougars.

"It was a good win," Drexler said. "It was a hard-fought victory. The game was close from start to finish. Their team was a good team, and we knew this was going to be a tough game for us.

"Our team came out and responded to the challenge, and that is what you want to see in a young team," he said. "We had good patience, rebounded very well, and it was just a good overall victory. We deserved this win."

The Cougars will try to carry over that momentum when they face LSU at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Hofheinz Pavilion.
 

Reach Consolacion at
dcougar@mail.uh.edu.
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