Going for three
As if recognizing their season slipping away, the Cougars seem to have found a few answers since extending their losing streak to four games against SMU — and found those answers in a hurry.
It all started with some clutch play against ECU to save a once double-digit lead from evaporating into another disappointing home loss. And, sensing their momentum getting new life, the Cougars turned one nail-biting victory into another. When UTEP rode into town on Saturday expecting to play the same team they put a 70-50 drubbing on in early January, they instead encountered a different Houston squad: one that doesn’t fold when the shots are not falling.
UH (11-9, 3-4 Conference USA) has by no means sealed their fate as a serious threat to the C-USA race, but when they stunned UTEP at Hofheinz Pavillion, it was clear they had turned a corner. After a pair of losses that saw head coach James Dickey describe his team’s effort as “embarrassing” and “disappointing”, UH has made strides by maintaining a consistent effort throughout an entire 40 minutes of play.
With the Cougars heading to Alabama this week for their first look of the year at UAB, the stakes will be high for the team to make good on the potential they showed in their two-game homestand, and push their winning streak to three games.
“The last thing we talked about…was determination to win, and being disciplined enough the way we know we are capable,” Dickey said.
“We’ve got to take care of the things we can control: positive attitude, great effort and being determined. That’s all we can take care of.”
Much like UH, UAB (7-13, 2-5) has also struggled with consistency throughout the season, and claims a pair of four-game losing streaks that saw the club give up big leads, mismanage the offense and, most importantly, fail to maintain a positive attitude when facing adversity.
Though UAB sits at the bottom of the C-USA ladder in both field goal percentage and offensive production as a whole, the Cougars will do well to not ignore senior Cameron Moore. The forward has averaged 15.6 points and 10 rebounds through 20 games, and leads C-USA in blocked shots (2.6).
As a whole, the UAB offense is a strictly Moore-centric system. In order to assure their third win a row, the Cougars, again, will have to show up not only on the offensive end, but play inspired basketball when guarding against Moore’s big-numbers threat as well.
“Defense was a huge key for us in that win (UTEP),” Dickey said.
“But I’d like to see us do that for 40 minutes — defense, rebounding and getting the free throw line.”