McKiver breaks UH men’s basketball record with legendary performance
The air was dense with anticipation. It didn’t matter if the Cougars were up by 26 points with just over four minutes left in the game. The 3,664 fans who showed up wanted to witness senior guard Robert "Fluff" McKiver make history.
They didn’t leave Hofheinz Pavilion following Houston’s 95-67 win over Southern Miss disappointed Wednesday night.
McKiver stuck with what had gotten him in the position to be mentioned in the same breath as UH-great Elvin Hayes and drove to the basket.
He took on four Golden Eagle defenders, with his body twisting in the air from contact, and flicked his wrist to kiss the ball off the glass and through the net to give Houston an 87-59 lead with 3:36 left to go.
With that, McKiver broke the 50-point barrier and tied Hayes at 51 points for the third-highest point total in UH history. After hitting the free throw, he stood alone at 52 points.
"It’s a big honor. A lot of people don’t realize how much tradition our school has," McKiver said. "We’ve had so many great players that have played here: Otis Birdsong, Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler, Albert Franklin, Hakeem Olajuwon. We’ve got a lot of tradition, and it’s just an honor to have this kind of record."
Senior guard Marcus Malone was quick to make reference to the NBA and a few McKiver doubters after McKiver set not only a new Conference-USA record, but also the national scoring record for this season.
"People keep doubting him. They say, ‘He’s not ready, he’s not this, he’s too small,’" Malone said. "Just keeps proving everybody wrong every single time. People don’t understand how far he’s come. I live with him so I know. He’s grown so much and matured so much as a person, and it’s just carried off on the floor. He’s unbelievable right now."
Houston head coach Tom Penders said he knew about midway through the second half McKiver had a chance to hit the 50-point mark and was more than happy to leave his leading scorer in the game.
"We want to win for the University of Houston first," Penders said. "But when a player of mine has the opportunity to do something special, particularly a kid that works as hard as ‘Fluff,’ it’s satisfying to me because nobody has worked harder than him."
The Cougars and McKiver utilized their 25 forced turnovers and 16 steals to get an early lead. Houston entered the second half with a 43-33 lead. Houston had Southern Miss in a daze for the first 20 minutes, using a full-court trap to force them into 15 turnovers.
The 3-point shot was an afterthought for McKiver early in the game. The Golden Eagles played him for the 3, so he took what he gave them and used screens to get to the rim time after time. He scored 20 points through the first 11 minutes and finished the first half with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line after being fouled four times while making his way to the rack.
Southern Miss’ leading scorer was junior guard Craig Craft, who finished with 16.
With the win Houston improved to 21-6 on the season with a 10-3 C-USA record.