UH remains optimistic going into C-USA tournament
With the 2011 Conference USA Championship tournament getting under way, the stakes are simple for the Cougars — win or go home.
The Cougars, seeded No. 11, will face off against No. 6 Marshall today. UH, the reigning C-USA tournament champion, is looking to make lightning strike twice by winning four games in four days and winning the championship.
UH enters the tournament on a six-game losing streak, and losers of 11 out of its last 12. But once the tournament starts, all regular-season records go out the window.
“It’s a new season,” head coach James Dickey said. “The biggest thing for us mentally is going there, staying positive and playing hard.”
Senior guard Adam Brown will return to the UH lineup. He was suspended on Feb. 25 for a violation of team rules and missed three games. Dickey lifted Brown’s suspension Monday and plans to play him against Marshall.
Brown was a member of last season’s squad that won the tournament, and said he believes the Cougars could surprise teams again.
“Nobody is expecting us to do something, so we have nothing to lose,” Brown said. “We just need to go out there and have fun. If we play as a unit, we can come out on top at the end of the day.”
The last time the Cougars played Marshall on Feb. 1 at Hofheinz Pavilion, they lost 63-62 .UH had a one-point lead with less than 20 seconds remaining. Alandise Harris blocked a layup attempt, but Marshall forward Aundra Williams saved the ball from going out of bounds, and made the go-ahead basket with 11 seconds left.
Despite the loss, Dickey said he believes his team is capable of pulling out the victory.
“Our guys know if they play like they’re capable of then we’re talented enough to win this game,” Dickey said. “We just have to go out and play and be in the right frame of mind.”
The Cougars will have their hands full with recently-named C-USA Freshman of the Year guard DeAndre Kane. He torched the Cougars in their last meeting for 24 points, including 16 in the second half.
“We have to have an awareness of where he is at all times,” Dickey said. “The man that’s guarding him needs to do a good job and we also need to help when he comes off screens or post-ups.”
If the Cougars beat Marshall, they will play UTEP on Thursday.
A loss means they will have to play the waiting game, and see if they receive a bid to the National Invitational Tournament or College Basketball Invitational.
The Cougars and the Herd tip off at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. The game will be broadcast on 790 AM KBME.