Cougars hope to humble Hilltoppers
The Cougars look to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss when they face Western Kentucky in their last non-conference game at 7 p.m. today at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky.
UH (11-11, 4-5 Conference USA) lost to Southern Miss 57-55 on Saturday on a last second tip-in by Torye Pelham.
After losing their halftime lead, the Cougars rallied late before coming up short as time expired. Senior guard Aubrey Coleman led the Coogs with 22 points, maintaining his status as the nation’s leading scorer. He also leads the country in steals, with 3.09 per game.
Maurice McNeil stepped up his game with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, well above his season averages of 8.5 and 8, respectively.
The contest against Southern Miss was a tale of two halves. UH started the game on an 11-0 run over the first six minutes and held the Eagles to 30 percent shooting. In the second half, they dropped their defensive intensity and dug themselves a hole they could not climb out of.
After Desmond Wade’s free throw tied the game at 55, Pelham tipped in a missed shot as the final buzzer sounded. The tip-in was reviewed by referees via video and confirmed as good, giving Southern Miss the victory.
The Cougars’ next opponent, Western Kentucky (13-11, 6-6 Sun Belt Conference), is a mid-major program that is no stranger to winning on the national scene.
Despite being in a smaller conference, the Hilltoppers are regulars in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2008 when they finished ranked 22nd in the ESPN top-25 poll. Their 39 seasons of 20 or more wins ranks as sixth on the all-time list of Division I programs.
Western Kentucky is led by senior guard A.J. Slaughter, who leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game. Another threat on the Hilltoppers’ roster is junior forward Steffphon Pettigrew, who is averaging 15.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.
Western Kentucky will be looking to avenge a 73-64 loss to Houston last season. Despite facing off for the second year in a row, it is only the fourth time the two teams will meet since their first match-p on Dec. 29, 1953.
This is the first time the Cougars will make the trip to Bowling Green, Ky. They lead the all-time series between the two schools, 2-1.
The game can be heard on the Houston-ISP Sports Radio Network. It can also be seen live on Fox Sports Houston Plus (Houston Comcast channel 76).