Cougars stall after fast start
The Cougars followed their recent trend of getting off to a good start on Saturday against the SMU Mustangs.
This time, the Cougars didn’t wait until the second half to slow down offensively, but the result was still the same — a loss.
UH cooled off in a hurry, and the Mustangs attained some momentum of their own, which they sustained through the rest of the game for a 74-67 win in front of 458 fans at Hofheinz Pavilion.
For a brief stretch, the Cougars (10-10, 4-3 Conference USA) looked unbeatable. In the first half of the game, the Cougars were shooting at a 50 percent clip from the field. And this wasn’t an uncontested layup drill — these were jumpers from 18-20 feet, including some 3-pointers.
Head coach Joe Curl said the game naturally gets easy when players are making shots.
“When you shoot the ball well, everything looks great,” Curl said. “If you shoot it well, you look like a heck of a basketball team. If you don’t shoot well, everything else looks like it’s a mess out there.”
With their hot shooting, the Cougars were up by 13 points in the first half. UH also played with more intensity on defense, putting pressure on the Mustangs’ offense to match the Cougars’ shooting. SMU (15-5, 5-2) just couldn’t do it and for most of the half, hovered around 35-39 percent from the field.
In a drastic reversal, the Mustangs found their rhythm just as the Cougars went ice cold.
With 5:23 left in the first half, UH’s, Courtney Taylor, made a layup that put the Cougars up 31-19, but the Mustangs went on a 16-4 run to take a 35-34 lead, with 30 seconds left in the half.
The Cougars didn’t regain the lead after that, and the Mustangs slowly pulled away. UH fought hard to come back, but were not able to overcome its dry spell on the way to shooting 42 percent for the game.
“I think we lost our rhythm, and we got stagnant,” Taylor said.
UH returns to the court at 7 p.m. Thursday at Tudor Fieldhouse for a showdown with Rice.