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Monday, November 29, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 68

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Cougars have much to work on early in the season

Cougar Hoops

By Josh Gajewski

"We had some guys who are still in Alaska and some guys who had too much turkey."

Those were the words of UH head basketball coach Clyde Drexler after the Cougars (2-2) dropped a 94-80 home-opening decision to Southern Methodist University (3-0) on Saturday afternoon at Hofheinz Pavilion.

SMU jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes of the ballgame and never really looked back. UH could never muster a lead of any proportion; a 21-18 lead with 9:34 left to go in the first half was the biggest advantage the Cougars would find all day.

"We wanted to dictate the game and I felt like we did that," SMU forward Jeryl Sasser said.

The game was physical -- a total of 55 personal fouls were committed by the two teams in the game, 28 of those by the Cougars.

"They pushed and we got out of the way," Drexler said. "If you're physical, you've got to push back."

UH shot only 38 percent from the field for the game after a 56 percent shooting performance against George Washington last week.

"We'd make a great steal, come down and then have a spectacular turnover," Drexler added. "We were rushing every single shot, making every single bad judgment you could make."

One of the lone bright spots came in the performance of freshman forward George Williams, who scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

"The only problem I have is the team effort," Williams said. "It wasn't so much the plays they made but the plays we didn't make. Our transition defense was terrible (but) it came down to team effort."

UH forward Kenny Younger was forced to sit early with foul trouble and fouled out of the game on a questionable call with just under four minutes to go in the game.

"We were lucky," SMU Coach Mike Dement said. "I was very worried about him because he's an explosive player. But he wasn't that much of a factor."

UH will need to right its ship in a hurry as it travels north to Iowa for the Hawkeye Classic on Dec. 3.

The good news for the Cougars is that this was only Game 4 of the young season; but needless to say, there is work to be done.

"All of those intangibles -- the loose balls, the hustle plays -- they made them all and we made none," Drexler said. "I feel like you're going to have a few really bad games every year and hopefully this is one of them. We will get better."

But judging by Saturday's performance, there's still a long way to go. Fans seem to realize it as well. A weak crowd of just over 3,000 showed up for the home opener, sending a message: UH can't rely on Drexler's presence alone to fill the seats. Wins and losses are now the primary focus.
 

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