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Thursday, January 20, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 77

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Lack of effort in first half troubling for Younger, UH

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

Lately, it's been tough watching the UH men's basketball team. The team plays so hard, but it just can't pull off the win.

UH took Connecticut, the defending NCAA national champions, down to the wire and lost by six. The Cougars stayed with Texas on the road, but bowed to the Longhorns by 10.

Pin Lim/Daily Cougar


Kenny Younger (50) has averaged nearly 20 points a game in the past five weeks. His 32-point performance at home against Sacramento State was a career high for the senior.

 

Finally, on Sunday, they made another potential game-winning run against No. 21 DePaul, but the Cougars lost 77-68.

The problem with the close games is simple: The Cougars allow the opposing team to come at them with all its might in the first half, forcing Houston to fall behind in the process. The Cougars come back in the second half like a totally different team, but in most cases, it's not enough. The hole is too big to climb out of.

This is a team habit that senior forward Kenny Younger has major problems with.

"It's a very dangerous way to approach the game," he said. "I think we just feel like we can take (the opponent's) best shot and overcome the deficit in the second half. But it's not working out that way now."

Younger says the Cougars need to start the game on the right foot. Showing the opposing team that Houston is capable of beating it primarily in the second half won't allow the Cougars to get far. Their "A" game must be on for the entire 40 minutes.

"We've got to start games the way we're ending them lately," Younger said. "It's frustrating to put out all that effort at the end of the game and all we get is a loss.

"There are a lot of games we should have won, but there comes a time when we have to stop thinking like that and actually start winning those games. We're capable of doing it. I know we are," he said.

On Dec. 30, 1999, the Cougars were trailing Connecticut by as much as 28 points before going on a 24-6 run, only to lose by six. On Jan. 5, Houston went on a 17-2 run on the road against Southern Mississippi. The run could have put the game in the hands of the Cougars, but a handful of mistakes gave the Golden Eagles the 82-76 win.

Finally, after trailing by as much as 17, Houston pulled to within four against DePaul on Sunday, but too many missed layups and a lack of aggression lost the game for the Cougars.

"We could have won that game, but we did the same thing," Younger said. "It's a pattern I think we can break.

"We've addressed it in practice. It's just something we're going to have to correct. There's no excuse for it," he said.

Younger, along with fellow senior Gee Gervin and freshman George Williams, have been Houston's most consistent offensive weapons as of late.

In the past five weeks, Younger has averaged almost 20 points, and he played a 32-point game against Sacramento State at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Foul trouble is the only thing that plagues the 6-9 forward from Minot, N.D. Younger has scored in the single digits in only four games: He fouled out against Southern Methodist University (seven points, Nov. 27, 1999), committed three fouls against Ohio (six points, Dec. 3, 1999), four fouls against Louisiana-Monroe (six points, Dec. 15, 1999) and fouled out against North Carolina-Charlotte (seven points, Jan. 12).

All four games were Cougar losses.

"Yeah, that's something I'll have to work on," Younger said. "I've been wanting to be more aggressive on defense. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I've been using my quickness a lot lately and the calls have been going against me.

"Since I'm a little more athletic and quicker than most of the guys I defend, I'm being a lot more aggressive on the defensive end. I want to contribute as much as I can -- not only offensively, but on the other side of the court, too. At the same time, my team needs me on the floor, so I'm gonna have to work on my foul trouble," he said.

Younger is content to say that he feels he's playing his best basketball ever. Using that, he hopes that he, Gervin and Williams can lead Houston to the top of Conference USA.

"Our goal is still to win the conference championship," he said. "I don't think it's out of reach."

First things first. If the Cougars can overcome their first-half woes and play to the best of their ability for an entire game, nothing is out of reach.
 

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