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Volume 68, Issue 98 , Tuesday, February 18, 2003


UH can't afford USM loss

By Emily Davis
The Daily Cougar

Last monthis three-game winning streak did a lot for the Cougarsi confidence -- boosting coach Ray McCallumis team into a first-place tie in Conference USAis National Division and solidifying dreams of a C-USA tournament appearance.

Sophomore guard Andre Owens and the Cougars return to Hofheinz Pavilion to play the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at 7:30 tonight.

Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar

This monthis four-game losing streak has done the opposite -- dropping UHis divisional standing to fifth place and reducing that postseason dream into a nightmare on Cullen Boulevard.

"We need to regroup," McCallum said. "If we stay together and remain focused, we can stay up."

But after Saturdayis 62-47 loss at South Florida, a team the Cougars defeated just three weeks ago, staying up is easier said than done.

"Everyone lives for a big game," said sophomore guard Andre Owens, who looked like his old self again with 12 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesdayis 59-55 overtime loss to Charlotte.

"Itis just really disappointing to play a bad game," he said.

UH (6-15, 4-6 in C-USA) will have to get over that disappointment quickly as it faces Southern Miss at 7:30 tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion.

While the Cougars handed the Golden Eagles a 76-75 loss in Mississippi last month, USM now sits just one spot below UH in the divisional standings.

"If we can attack in the first half like we have been in the second half, we can finish off these games," McCallum said.

As usual, McCallum will look to his veterans to get that done. Seniors Louis Truscott and Jeremee McGuire have posted strong numbers in UHis last two games -- 20 points and eight rebounds for Truscott against Charlotte and nine points, five rebounds and one block for McGuire against South Florida.

"We rely on these guys to come up big for us," McCallum said. "They have the experience in the tight games that our young guys donit."

Southern Miss (10-12, 3-8) experienced the importance of free throws in Saturdayis 74-69 loss to DePaul, USMis fifth consecutive conference loss.

The Golden Eagles led the Blue Demons in three-pointers and both teams had 24 field goals. But DePaul held a 23-17 free-throw advantage, and that made all the difference.

Led by center Charles Gaines, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, the Eagles will look for their first C-USA road win of the season tonight.

"We just canit give in to pressure," Truscott said earlier this month. "We have to maintain our composure and just bring our game."

The Cougars can let their current slide take them down or move them forward -- either way, the show must go on. With only five regular-season games remaining, UH has no time to waste if it plans on a comeback.

After Tuesdayis game, the Cougars play back-to-back road games against Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday and Tulane on Feb. 26 before facing Texas Christian at home March 1.

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