UH levels Green Wave on court

The Cougars are doing everything in their power to make a run to the NCAA Tournament. Their 66-56 victory over the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday was another small step in the right direction.

Not only did Houston improve its record to 18-4 (7-1 Conference USA), it distanced itself in the C-USA standings from third place Alabama-Birmingham, who sits at 6-2 after taking out Texas-El Paso Saturday. The Cougars also sent Tulane down to the middle of the pack in C-USA with a 5-4 record, and into a three-way tie with UTEP and Central Florida.

If Houston continues to follow this pattern of beating everyone in the conference except Memphis, it could find itself holstering a 25-5 record headed into the conference tournament and an RPI ranking in the mid-to-upper 40s. These would be a couple unconcealed weapons that could surely catch the attention of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee, which is responsible for choosing the 65 teams who enter the tournament, especially if Houston continues winning the way it has been.

The Cougars forced the Green Wave into 26 turnovers Saturday, using a high-pressure switch, rotate and trap-style defense that head coach Tom Penders often refers to as the amoeba.

They then capitalized off those turnovers by scoring 37 points on the other end of the spectrum.

This combination allowed the Cougars to escape a horrific first-half shooting performance of 27 percent, and actually take a 29-28 lead into the half.

It also sparked the series of runs necessary for Houston to outscore Tulane 37-28 in the second half, securing the victory.

The Cougars’ senior guard Robert "Fluff" McKiver was not spared from the team’s 32 percent from the field shooting woes. He went 6-for-17, including a 3-of-12 night from behind the three-point line, but as has been the case the entire season, he dealt a huge chunk of damage from the free-throw line. McKiver shot 10-11 from the charity stripe on his way to scoring a game-high 25 points. He also improved his free-throw percentage to 87.9 on the season.

DaShaun Williams came off the bench again for the Cougars and provided a spark. He scored 12 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and was credited with four of Houston’s 18 steals in just 26 minutes.

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