Nixon points UH to win
Making a change at the point guard position can, and usually does, spell disaster for a team as young and inexperienced as the Cougars. However, since Zamal Nixon has been inserted in the lineup in the place of Desmond Wade, his minutes and production have harmoniously increased, proving conventional wisdom wrong.
Nixon posted nine points, seven assists and only one turnover in the Cougars’ 69-56 win over Southern Methodist on Wednesday.’
UH head coach Tom Penders called the sophomore guard the player of the game, and with three consecutive wins under his belt, the Brooklyn baller with more handles than a bikers convention is starting to regain the swagger that made him so dangerous in high school and in brief stints during the 2007-08 season.
‘That was huge for him and his confidence,’ Penders said. ‘We’ve been going with him the last few games, and I’m really pleased. The point guard position at the college level is difficult.’
Penders said with the emergence of Nixon as a dependable coordinator of the offense, he has three viable players at the position who could start at any given point in the season.
Penders also said Nixon has always had offensive talent. He proved that with a 24-point explosion against Arizona in 2008, but as a defense-minded coach, Penders saw a few flaws in Nixon’s game that could have jeopardized the team’s success.’ This is no longer an issue.
‘ ‘It’s all about his defense,’ Penders said when asked why Nixon has seen increased minutes. ‘I’d like him to shoot a little bit more because he does so well in practice, but defensively he’s really taking pride in it.’
‘He did an excellent job for us defensively tonight. He got a couple of loose balls. He played the passing lanes. He’s developing a defensive mindset, which I think all great players have.’
Nixon was not the only starter to turn in a solid performance for the Cougars (15-7, 6-3 Conference USA). In fact, he was the only one who did not finish with double-digits in points.
The Cougars’ leading scorer, guard Aubrey Coleman, matched his season average with a 20-point night, while center Marcus Cousin recorded a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Forward Qa’rraan Calhoun posted 13 points and seven rebounds, and guard Kelvin Lewis added 11 points, despite shooting 1-of-6 from three-point range.
Both players played an integral role in a four-minute, 14-0 run in the second half, capped by a Nixon jumper with 7:11 left in the game that gave the Cougars a 55-43 lead.
The run spelled the end for the Mustangs, who fell to 7-15 overall and 1-8 in C-USA play.
Wednesday’s win moved the Cougars into a tie with Alabama-Birmingham for third place in C-USA behind Associated Press No. 8 Memphis (9-0) and Tulsa (7-3).
The Cougars will take on Tulane at 7 p.m. Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion, looking to extend their win streak to four games.