UH road show continues at UAB
The Cougars stay on the road this weekend as they head to Birmingham, Ala. to take on a battle-tested UAB team in an important Conference USA matchup.
UH (13-12, 5-6 C-USA) looks to bounce back from last Saturday’s 68-65 loss at Central Florida. Head coach Tom Penders knows that will be a difficult proposition given UAB’s early-season success.
“(UAB) is a very good home-court team and I think a very solid team, one of the surprise teams in the league and they’ve done very well outside the league,” Penders said.
UAB (20-5, 8-3) lost three of its last five games, but pulled out a 59-54 victory over Southern Miss on Wednesday to become the first C-USA team to reach 20 wins this season.
“As of late, they have had some ups and downs, but they always play us tough,” Penders said. “We’re going to have to play extremely well to be successful there.”
UH has fallen five games behind first-place UTEP in the C-USA standings and has struggled on the road this season with a 4-6 record.
A bright spot for the struggling Cougars has been senior guard Aubrey Coleman. The NCAA leader in points (25.6) and steals (3.0), Coleman is the go-to guy for the Cougars, and with his ability to take over a game, he has UH fans dreaming of a deep run in a wide-open C-USA Tournament.
“Well, we hope to have a little more scoring from Kelvin Lewis, maybe Adam Brown or Zamal Nixon, because everybody keys on Aubrey and Lewis,” Penders said. “If we get two of those guys playing well together, we have a chance to beat anyone.”
UAB has some players as well with four averaging in double figures. Junior guard Elijah Millsap leads the way with averages of 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
“In league games anything and everything does happen,” Penders said. “They’re an athletic team … (they) have good size. They’re quick; they don’t necessarily look to run all night long like we do.”
This will be the only meeting this season between UH and UAB. UH prevailed 75-56 the last time they played on Jan. 10, 2009 at Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Cougars will need better free throw shooting late in games. UH is shooting only 70 percent from the line this season and doesn’t have one player shooting better than 75 percent. C-USA as a whole is shooting no greater than 72 percent from the line.
“Consistency in free throw shooting will be real helpful,” Penders said. “Almost every game boils down to foul shooting. We’ve probably dropped six games this year because of subpar free throw shooting.”
The Cougars will be back at Hofheinz Pavilion for their second-to-last home game of the season against Memphis on Feb. 24.