Tulane became the first higher seed to win a game in this C-USA tournament as they defeated the ECU Pirates (13-17, 5-12 C-USA), 69-59. ECU held an early advantage before Tulane went on a late run in the first half to claim a nine-point advantage entering the break. ECU made a few second half runs, but the Green Wave held them off each time with big shots form junior point guard Kevin Sims, who finished with a game high 23 points.
ECU trimmed the Tulane lead to six with under four minute to play, but Tulane answered with big three point shots by Sims and Eric Vianney to put the game away. Tulane (14-16, 8-9 C-USA) will play top-seeded Memphis tomorrow afternoon.
The Houston Cougars (20-10, 11-6 C-USA) began the game on an 11-2 run and never looked back as they handled the 12th seeded SMU Mustangs (9-21, 3-14 C-USA), 85-76.
Houston used their outstanding speed and athleticism to run over the slower, last place Mustangs. Kelvin Lewis scored 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half, Zamal Nixon bucketed 17 points, and Aubrey Coleman and Qa'rran Calhoun each added 18 in a balanced Cougars scoring attack.
SMU battled hard for most of the game due to great guard play from Derek Williams and Paul McCoy, two players who will be exciting to watch next year. Williams and McCoy finished with 31 points combined, Williams scoring 16 of his 18 after the break. SMU was able to get the lead down to six on a few occasions in the second half, but could get no closer as Houston kept answering the SMU runs.
The Cougars will face UTEP on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
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