Coleman leads UH past Herd
Aubrey Coleman probably wouldn’t mind playing against Marshall more often.
For the second straight season, Coleman recorded a season-high in points against the Thundering Herd.
Coleman, the nation’s leading scorer, poured in 13 of his 37 points Saturday during the first 7:30 of the second half to lead the Cougars to an 81-66 win in front of 4,457 fans at Hofheinz Pavilion.
In the first half, UH (11-9, 4-3) combined unyielding defense with an efficient offensive effort to claim a 32-27 halftime advantage. In the second half, Coleman (11-of-23 shooting) took the wheel until the Cougars held a large enough lead to shift into cruise control.
“It was a team effort,” head coach Tom Penders said. “I know Aubrey had great numbers, and he’s a fabulous player and all that …”
UH came out of the break on a 21-8 run, extending its lead to 53-35 with 12:32 left.
Coleman led the way, attacking a Marshall (15-6, 4-3) defense that looked sluggish and overwhelmed. That paved the way for the senior guard to showcase most of his offensive skill set, which included an impressive dunk off a backdoor slash to the basket.
After that Coleman-led charge, Marshall never recovered.
Coleman said Saturday’s offensive success started on the defensive end — something that didn’t occur enough when he scored a career-high 38 points during last season’s 88-83 loss to Marshall in Huntington, W.Va.
“We wanted to play defense so we could just run on an open court,” Coleman said. “It seemed like (Marshall) didn’t have a lot of confidence. They were kind of hesitant.”
An active and communicative Cougars defense held C-USA’s No. 2 offense to 37.9 percent shooting overall. UH also showed a streak of aggression, utilizing pressure and quick hands to create 12 steals.
“We took advantage of a lot of fast-break opportunities,” Penders said. “Most of those (steals) led to buckets. That was important.”
Penders and his staff attempted to counter the Herd’s interior size advantage by double-teaming and fronting their forwards. That strategy paid off, as Marshall’s leading scorer, Hassan Whiteside, was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
“We played an extremely solid game,” Penders said. “Defensively, we didn’t miss many assignments, which was good, and that sets a tone.”
The Cougars will hit the road for a 9 p.m. Wednesday matchup with UTEP before hosting Southern Miss at 5 p.m. Saturday.