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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Cougars follow Coleman

As guard Aubrey Coleman goes, so do the Cougars. When he’s at his best, they can give any team fits.

Fortunately for the Cougars, Coleman has been at his best in their last three games. His 27-point, 12-rebound performance in Saturday’s 72-65 win over Rice was just the latest in a string of standout performances that has the Cougars back in the top half of the Conference USA standings.

In the last three games (two were wins), Coleman averaged 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals. He also shot 45.2 percent from the field and 91.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Coleman has hit an uncanny 11 of 12 free throws in each of the last three games. Amazing, isn’t it?’

Coleman, for the most part, has been on a tear for the last month. Since the Cougars’ 85-65 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Jan. 6, the 6-4, 200-pound playmaker has averaged 23.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. This includes the infamous Arizona game, when Coleman was ejected midway through the second half for stepping on the face of Arizona forward Chase Budinger.

But that’s old news. What matters now to the Cougars (14-7, 5-3 C-USA) is somehow finding a way to climb higher in the conference standings and getting back into the postseason picture.

The best way to do that is by riding Coleman and praying that his supporting cast shows up for each remaining game.

Full set of actors

Coleman had to run ‘The Show’ all by himself against Memphis on Jan. 31, scoring a career-high 35 points in an 83-68 loss. In the two games since, including Wednesday’s 97-69 thrashing of Central Florida, he’s received a lot of help.

Guard Kelvin Lewis chipped in 13 points Saturday. Forward Qa’rraan Calhoun had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks and center Marcus Cousin had nine points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Desmond Wade had eight points, three assists and a block in 30 solid minutes off the bench.

Yes, the 5-9, 155-pound Wade went high for his first block of the season. That was a somewhat telling sign of how the game would end.

But nearly everything started and ended with Coleman making plays on both ends of the court. He drove into the lane, hit big shots, drew contact that resulted in trips to the free throw line and held down his end on defense.’

Coleman had to take over in the second half, scoring 21 of his points in that period. Otherwise, the Cougars might not have won a game that was a must-win.

Final stretch

The Cougars have eight remaining regular-season games. Fortunately for them, the next three come against three of the worst teams in C-USA.

The Cougars should be favored against Southern Methodist (7-14, 1-7), Tulane (9-13, 3-6) and Marshall (10-13, 3-6), but a loss against any of these squads would be equally devastating.

Coleman must continue playing at a high level for the Cougars to have a shot at winning the remainder of their regular-season games. Anything less would put more pressure on his teammates, who haven’t been as consistent lately.

Coleman will definitely keep doing his part.

But only one working part won’t be enough for the Cougars.

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