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
Junior guard Marcus Oliver
and the Cougars now have ten wins this year, the most for Houston since
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
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
Houston, now tied for second in C-USA's
National Division, was led by Smith, who finished with 20 points on six-of-eight
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
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
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.