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Volume 72, Issue 97, Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sports

Houston gears up for critical C-USA match

by CHRIS ELLIOTT
The Daily Cougar

In January, UH head coach Tom Penders said his team needed to close out the season with authority. His teams have always had a tendency of kicking it up an extra notch when conference tournament time rolled around, he said. 

In a sense, the Cougars have done that. They've won eight of their last 11 games, improving in the most important category to Penders -- defense. However, a team that starts the season with a 6-9 record has very little room for error if the team has post-season plans. UH plays Tulane at 7 p.m. tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion in a pivotal Conference USA match-up.

Penders could run a larger lineup than usual as a result of junior guard Robert Lee going down with an ankle injury Monday. Penders said he does not know whether or not Lee will be able to play. If Lee can't come off the bench to provide relief for starting junior guard Marcus Malone, junior forward Dion Dowell could see more time at the three position. 

This move would likely place senior Jahmar "Dunk Master Flex" Thorpe at the power forward position, while inserting junior Tafari Toney in at center. If this happens, three players in the rotation would stand over six feet tall -- a rarity in these parts of late. 

Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson started a large lineup in his team's win 73-65 over Marshall, in which every player except guard Kevin Sims ranged from 6-5 to 6-7. 

The Green Wave has managed to put together a late season run of their own, winning four out of their last five games to improve to 6-6 in C-USA play. 

Penders said Tulane is an athletic team that gets consistent contributions from each one of its starting players as well as its bench. On the offensive end, the Green Wave has three players averaging double figures on the season. Forward David Gomez, who has put up 13.6 points and six rebounds per game, has led the team smack-dab in the middle of the C-USA race for seeding in the tournament. 

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