Houston earns decisive win
With its 85-67 victory over East Carolina on Wednesday, Houston improved to 12-4 this season and owns a 3-1 Conference USA record, giving it second place in the league behind Associated Press No. 22 Memphis.
The Cougars successfully overcame their first conference loss of the season against Southern Miss on Saturday with an 18-point win over the Pirates (9-8, 1-3 C-USA).
‘When we play like we’ve got something to prove we can beat anybody,’ junior guard Aubrey Coleman said after his 23-point night against the Pirates. ‘That’s the mindset we want to go in with every game.’
Coleman’s 23-point performance made him one of five Cougars to end the game with double figures in scoring.
Starting big men junior Qa’rraan Calhoun and senior Marcus Cousin both finished the game with double-doubles. Cousin established himself in the paint on both sides of the ball with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but his presence on the defensive end made it tough for ECU to get any good shots.
‘When Marcus (Cousin) plays aggressive and plays really hard and asserts himself, he dominates,’ UH head coach Tom Penders said. ‘He was above the rim for rebounds, and he wasn’t just rebounding balls that dropped in his area.’
Calhoun added 12 points and 10 rebounds, igniting the crowd with his athleticism and uncanny ability to multitask on the fly.
Calhoun’s physical abilities were just what the crowd needed to awaken. Coleman missed a challenged layup, but Calhoun turned it into a spectacle. He flashed from the three-point line, elevated and threw down a put-back dunk over two ECU defenders.
The Cougars held a 51-31 lead over the Pirates after 20 minutes of play. Thanks to its ability to disrupt ECU’s offense, UH turned 10 Pirates’ turnovers into 12 points.
‘They have a balanced team, but our defense just took them out of everything,’ Penders said. ‘They went to five guards at one point because they couldn’t run their regular offense in the first half. We got a lot of easy baskets in transition and off of steals.’
DaShaun Williams appeared to be at the root of every fast break opportunity. The senior guard provided three steals and put up 11 points in his 25 minutes off the bench. He said he feels like he is in the late season form that gave the Cougars a huge lift down the stretch of last season.
‘It’s just important for me to pick it up around this point of the season,’ Williams said. ‘We’re not really getting any respect right now, but that’s our fault. Once we play our game, you see we have a balanced attack.’
The Cougars will have the perfect opportunity to earn respect from the entire country Saturday when they take on Arizona in Tucson.
‘We have to come out and play when the competition comes up,’ Calhoun said. ‘We’ve been looking forward to that all year.’