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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Men's Basketball

Cougars change appearance in second half

The second half was again a problem for the Cougars as the team blew a 19-point lead. | Esteban Portillio/ The Daily Cougar

The second half was again a problem for the Cougars as the team blew a 19-point lead. | Esteban Portillio/ The Daily Cougar

The UH men’s basketball team put together one of the most impressive offensive performances it has had all season against Tulane on Saturday — unfortunately for the Cougars, that performance was only 20 minutes long.

“We always emphasize playing a full 40 minutes. It is something we emphasize daily and is a key to the game. You can never get timid as long as there is time on the clock,” said head coach James Dickey.

In the beginning of the game, the Cougars could not miss. By the midpoint of the first half, the Cougars were shooting 90 percent from the field and 3-4 from behind the arc. For 10 minutes, with the exception of one 3-pointer and one free throw, every time a ball left a Cougar’s hand, it found the bottom of the net.

Though the Cougars put on a clinic in on how to play team basketball, racking up 14 assists on 24 shots, sophomore forward Tashawn Thomas stole the show with his dominant first-half effort.

After Thomas checked into the game with seven minutes remaining in the half, he reeled off 10 points, with a couple three-point plays, strong drives, three rebounds and a block on Tulane sophomore forward Josh Davis. Thomas’s first-half helped send the Cougars to the locker room with a healthy 14-point lead.

By recess, the Cougars were collectively shooting 60 percent from distance, making two of every three shots they put up and assisting on nearly 60 percent of their made shots.

The Cougars looked sluggish offensively to start the second period and gave up a 19 point lead in the final eight minutes of the game.

Made shots mean no defensive rebounds and with the Cougars shooting the lights out in the first half, Tulane had few opportunities for transition offense.

“We have to grow up and learn that everything isn’t resolved on the offensive side of the ball,” Thomas said. “You have to play defense.”

After accumulating 14 assists in the first half, the Cougars managed only four more after the break. The bench was inefficient for the Cougars, and they shot 34 percent from the field and 22 percent from behind the arc in the second half.

The ball-movement stagnated late in the game, prompting Dickey to jump up from the bench to shout “motion” to the team on several different occasions, but the message was not executed.

“We have to lock down and get focused in the last ten minutes of the game. We didn’t do that, and that’s the stuff we have to learn,” said sophomore guard Joseph Young. “We are a young team, and we’re going to live and learn.”

The Cougars are now 3-6 in conference play, and Conference USA is not generally considered a basketball powerhouse.

“We are relaxing and not finishing in the second half. When we get a lead, some of us feel like they won’t try to come back, so we just chill and try to hold that same lead,” Thomas said.

“That’s when the other team always makes their runs.”

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