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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Men's Basketball

UH advances in conference tournament after second half rally

The third time was the charm as the UH upset No. 25 SMU in the second round of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.

UH defeated SMU 68-64 at the Fedex Forum in Memphis after dropping two narrow decisions during the regular season.

UH will face defending national champion Louisville on Friday at 6 p.m. The winner will earn a trip to the finale with an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament on the line.

With SMU down by 3 with 28 seconds remaining in the game junior forward TaShawn

Thomas came up with a block on Marcus Kennedy, which sealed the game for the Cougars.

Thomas had 14 points 9 rebounds and four blocks in the game. Thomas knew what he had to do on that last possession.

“I timed it and waited for him to release the ball,” Thomas said.

The Cougars shot 47 percent from the 3-point line mainly due to sophomore guard Jherrod Stiggers who shot 5-9 from behind the line. Stiggers scored 19 points, while sophomore  point guard L.J. Rose added 16 points and 4 assist.

“My mindset was (you) never know if this would be the last game,” Stiggers said. “Never know (if) there would be a tomorrow, so leave everything on the floor. Take everything they give me.”

At halftime the Cougars were down by nine points. In the second half the Cougars came out with more offensive and defensive intensity.

The Cougars went on a 14-2 run that gave them the lead 56-44. UH outscored SMU 39-26 in the second half after the Mustangs shot 5 -20 from the field in the second half.

“I thought once we played the game inside out, it opened it up for us, and we were much more efficient offensively,” said head coach James Dickey. “Then we complemented our offense with the defense at the other end.”

SMU had swept the season series against the Cougars. In both games the Cougars were competitive but down the stretch they could not make the plays, but today the Cougars made the plays to get the upset win.

We finally got some flow to our offense,” he said. “Down the stretch, we had some empty possessions, but they missed free throws, and I thought our defense and rebounding were key in the second half. And obviously, we had some balanced scoring.”

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