Friday, Febuary 1, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 84


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 Hofheinz Pavilion.

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

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 during Tuesday's

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 conference.

The 49ers have won six in a row, including Tuesday's easy 97-83 road victory over DePaul. In that contest, Jobey Thomas scored 28
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 an impressive
9.5 rebounds.

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 with Cougar

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