Tuesday, January 22, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 76 



Houston victorious in a 'Blaze' of Glory

By Jake McKim
Daily Cougar Staff

If the Cougars aren't careful, they might just get used to this winning thing.

After an important overtime home victory over Texas Christian on Wednesday, the Cougars made it two in a row on Saturday, coming from
behind to beat Alabama-Birmingham 80-71.

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

Junior guard Marcus Oliver and the Cougars now have ten wins this year, the most for Houston since 1998-99.

It was an impressive road victory for the Cougars, now 10-7 overall and 3-2 in Conference USA. They went in to the game as five-and-a-half
point underdogs and have already won more games than they did all of last year.

The last time the Cougars won more than 10 games was the 1996-97 season. With a game against Tulane and two games against Southern
Mississippi still to come, the team should be able to grab at least a couple more wins this season, and possibly as many as five or six.

The Cougars came out sluggish and the Blazers, who fell to 8-10 on the season and 1-4 in C-USA, capitalized, jumping out to an early 14-4
lead. But the resilient Cougars fought back to within two points, 25-23, with 5:31 remaining in the first half and went into halftime down 37-34.

Sophomore point guard Kevin Gaines knocked down a three-pointer from the corner for UH to start the second half and senior guard Dominic
Smith's jumper made it 39-37.

The two teams exchanged leads four times early in the second half until junior guard Marcus Oliver's go-ahead shot made it 47-45 with 15:50
remaining in the game.

The Cougars would never again relinquish the lead and cruised to as much as an 11-point lead before taking the 80-71 win.

Houston, now tied for second in C-USA's National Division, was led by Smith, who finished with 20 points on six-of-eight shooting. Gaines
contributed 15 points and five assists and senior center Patrick Okafor added 13 points and eight rebounds.

The junior trio of forwards Louis Truscott, George Williams and Oliver also tallied solid numbers. Truscott had an 11-point, nine-rebound night,
Williams contributed eight points and eight rebounds and Oliver added eight points and five rebounds.

For UAB, Will Campbell threw in 19 points and grabbed 10 boards and Eric Batchelor finished with 15 points despite shooting just six-for-15
from the field.

Before Saturday's game, Houston had never defeated UAB in Birmingham. Before last season, the Cougars had never beaten UAB, having
suffered nine straight losses at the hands of the Blazers.

The Cougars have now won two of the last three against UAB and will look to win again when they host the Blazers March 2 at Hofheinz
Pavilion, the last game of the regular season for Houston.

The Cougars haven't won 10 games in a season since Clyde Drexler's first coaching season in 1998-99.

With 12 games remaining in the season, the Cougars are virtually assured of finishing with their best record in a long time. 

Eleven games remain on the conference schedule as well, and the Cougars will most likely only need to win five or six of those to end up in the
top half of C-USA heading into the conference tournament.

UH will now have two straight home games, facing Southern Miss (6-9, 1-4) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday followed by Memphis (15-4, 5-0) at 7:30
p.m. on Saturday.

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