Cougars set to go for
gold against 49ers
By Jake McKim
Daily Cougar Staff
With star senior guard Dominic Smith questionable
to play because of a sprained right knee, the Cougars prepare to battle
conference foe Charlotte on Saturday at
Kevin Harwerth/The Daily
Sophomore guard Kevin Gaines
brings the ball up the court against Tennessee State on Dec. 30.
Smith missed Tuesday's 78-66 road loss
to San Diego State after injuring his knee in practice. An MRI was negative,
however, and his
status will be determined by the amount
of pain he is feeling at game time.
Smith is averaging 14.3 points per game
and brings a toughness and work ethic to the team that was sorely missed
In Smith's absence, junior forward Jeremee
McGuire, who returned home to San Diego, Calif., for the first time as
a Cougar, posted his
first double-double for Houston, scoring
18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Now the Cougars must prepare to take on
the Charlotte 49ers, who are clearly one of the elite teams in Conference
USA and come in
boasting a 13-6 overall record, 7-1 in
The 49ers have won six in a row, including
Tuesday's easy 97-83 road victory over DePaul. In that contest, Jobey Thomas
points, Butler Johnson contributed 17
and Cam Stephens added 16 for the 49ers.
On the season, Thomas leads the team in
scoring at 18.7 points per game while Stephens averages 13.2 points and
To handle the 49ers, the Cougars will have
to contain Thomas, play solid transition defense and score a lot of points.
After going 11-7 through their first 18
games, the Cougars have dropped two in a row and, now standing at 4-3 in
C-USA, will need to
beat Charlotte to stay above .500.
For the Cougars, senior Patrick Okafor
is second to Smith in scoring at 13.3 points per game, junior Louis Truscott,
who scored 19
against San Diego, averages 13.2 points
and sophomore Kevin Gaines is averaging 11.1 points per game.
Last season, the Cougars beat Charlotte
73-72 on the late-game heroics of Smith, who scored 25 points. The 49ers
went on to finish
strong last season with a record of 22-11
and surprise the rest of the conference by winning the C-USA tournament.
This year's rematch should be an intense
fight to the finish.
Tipoff was moved to 7 p.m. from 7:30 p.m.
to accommodate television in Charlotte. Tickets are free for all students