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Friday, May 20, 2022

Men's Basketball

UH hopes to corral Mustangs

Maurice McNeil has turned his play up, averaging 17.5 points, 9 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots over the Cougars past four games. He will draw a tough assignment against SMU, matching up with Mustang’s leading scorer Papa Dia. | Aaron Cisneros/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars will look to build off their weekend win and pick up back-to-back wins for the first time in a month against SMU at 7 p.m. tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion.

“We just have to keep building our confidence and get to our habit of winning,” Adam Brown said. “We got out of that habit for a while, so we want to get back into the swing of things and start winning.”

The Cougars (12-11, 4-6 Conference USA) defeated SMU (15-9, 6-4) 70-68 in Dallas in their first meeting, but the Mustangs have been winners in five of their last six games.

“SMU is playing a lot better than when we played them,” head coach James Dickey said. “They do a lot of switching between man and zone and offensively they like to spread it out.”

The Cougars plan to combat the zone by running sets to get the ball into the paint and find shooters on the wing.

“Everybody is going to have to be ready to knock down open shots,” Zamal Nixon said. “One of the biggest things with the zone, the Achilles’ heel of the zone, is getting the ball in the middle, but once you get the ball in the middle it opens up a lot of other opportunities.”

On the defensive end, the Cougars front line will have their hands full containing SMU standout Papa Dia.

In their last meeting, Dia filled up the stat sheet with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocked shots, four assists and two steals.

“We’re going to get some help on him,” Dickey said. “We’re going to have to make a conscientious effort to keep him off the boards and attack him and not let him get the angles to block shots.”

The Cougars will have two new bodies to throw at Dia on the block. Maurice McNeil and Kendrick Washington both missed the Cougars 70-68 win over SMU in January.

“We just got to do a good job and make sure he doesn’t get many touches down on the block because he’s good around the basket,” McNeil said.

“I just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”

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