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Volume 69, Issue 94, Thursday, February 19, 2004


UH falls into tie for final C-USA spot

Cougar loss, ECU win put both teams in tie for 12th place; defense dooms UH

Cougar Sports Services

The Cougars needed a win to solidify their tenuous hold on the 12th and final Conference USA postseason tournament spot. They needed to a win to surpass their win total from last season. They needed to stop the bleeding. 

Playing on the road in Hattiesburg, Miss., UH just needed a win. 

But for the 13th time in 14 games, the Cougars didn't do what they needed. In fact, they seemed incapable of doing anything. UH fell 70-48 to Southern Miss on Wednesday, failing to play the defense that has kept them in most games this season. 

The loss drops Houston's overall record to 8-15 and its C-USA record to 2-10. In addition, UH has now lost seven of its eight road games this season. 

UH is now tied with East Carolina for 12th place in C-USA, after the Pirates defeated Tulane on Wednesday. Because only the top 12 teams qualify for the C-USA Tournament, the Cougars' final four games will be crucial to determining their postseason hopes. 

The Cougars nearly defeated USM on Feb. 3, falling to the Golden Eagles 75-72 in triple overtime, after Houston missed two potential game-tying three pointers. 

But USM received a combined 31 points from swingman Jasper Johnson (16) and guard Jarekus Singleton (15), easily handling the Cougars. Guard David Haywood added 11 points, including back-to-back three pointers that formed the backbone of an 11-0 USM run midway through the third period. Guard/forward Greg Johnson scored 10 for the Golden Eagles. 

Houston was led by senior guard Marcus Oliver, who scored 15 points in the loss. Freshman guard Lanny Smith, who scored 31 points in UH's near-miss on Feb. 3, had 13 points Wednesday.

The Cougars return home to face South Florida at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion.

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