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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Basketball: Shooting woes hurt Cougars

The men’s basketball team’s chances of cracking the Top 25 anytime soon may have been crushed, thanks to an 85-71 loss to Associated Press Poll No. 24-ranked Arizona Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion, but there was a silver lining.

Freshman point guard Zamal Nixon came off the bench early in the first half to drive his way to a 24-point performance in the national spotlight of ESPN 2.

"You don’t expect freshman to perform that well in the National spotlight against the players he was playing," UH head coach Tom Penders said. "In my opinion, this was a breakthrough game for him."

Nixon, with the assistance of senior guard Robert "Fluff" McKiver and senior forward Tafari Toney, led Houston on several runs to keep the Cougars competitive, including a three-minute run in the second half that he capped off with a put-back layup off of his own miss, to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 63-55 with 8:57 remaining in the game.

All of Houston’s efforts to make any sort of comeback were thwarted by Arizona’s own freshman hotshot Jerryd Bayless, who scored a game- and career-high 33 points. Bayless marked his territory at the foul line and made sure to take advantage of his investment, converting 18 out of an uncanny 20 attempts from the charity stripe.

"We knew he was a talented kid," Nixon said. "And we knew we were going to have to be (at) our best defensively to stop him."

Bayless also had some inside help. Forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill set up shop in the paint. The two opened a business that specialized in one-handed rim rattlers and six-foot jumpers – the Cougars seemed to be preferred customers in this case. Both finished with 17 points, while Budinger had three more rebounds than Hill, with 12.

Houston legend honored

Guy V. Lewis, the man who put Texas college basketball on the map coaching the likes of Don Chaney, Elvin Hayes, Otis Birdsong, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, was honored in a half-time ceremony to celebrate his induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 30 seasons with the Cougars, Lewis compiled 592 wins, had 14 NCAA tournament appearances, five final four appearances and led UH to two consecutive national title games in 1983 and 1984.

Sixty-seven of Lewis’ former players were in attendance and stood on the floor to show gratitude during the ceremony.

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