Cougars climb into middle of C-USA standings

Houston went from appearing to lose a heartbreaker to winning a thriller when it rallied to defeat Texas-El Paso 81-76 in overtime Jan. 28.

GETTING INSIDE

It was fitting that Houston was right in the middle of the pack in Conference USA through games of Jan. 28.

The young and short-handed Cougars have been inconsistent all season.

They've been awfully good at times, as on Jan. 28, when they rallied from 15 points down to beat visiting Texas-El Paso 81-76 in overtime. They have also been bad, as on Jan. 14, when they were routed 89-55 at Memphis.

Thus, Houston's 11-9 record and 3-4 conference mark seemed just about right. Houston was in a three-way tie for sixth place with Rice and UTEP in C-USA.

Houston has a chance to take a step forward on its two-game road trip to UAB on Feb. 1 and Tulane on Feb. 4. The Cougars have yet to win a true road game in four tries this season, and a victory in unfamiliar surroundings would only boost the young team's confidence.

NOTES, QUOTES

Video replay allowed Houston to rally vs. UTEP

--Houston went from appearing to lose a heartbreaker to winning a thriller when it rallied to defeat Texas-El Paso 81-76 in overtime Jan. 28.

UTEP's C.J. Cooper made a 3-pointer from the left wing at the end of regulation that appeared to give the Miners a 69-66 victory. However, following a video review, the officials ruled that the ball left Cooper's hand after the final buzzer.

Houston then rallied from a 76-72 deficit with under a minute left in overtime by scoring the game's final nine points.

"The shot being (late) and going into overtime basically let everybody (on the team) know that this game was ours," Houston freshman F TaShawn Thomas said. "(We thought,) 'We're supposed to win this game, so let's hurry up and finish it.'"

--Houston was 8-0 this season when scoring 81 or more points through Jan. 28. The Cougars were 3-9 when they had scored 80 or fewer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10-4 -- Houston's home record at Hofheinz Pavilion through Jan. 28. The Cougars, though, were 0-4 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Houston just does a good job of executing its offense." -- Texas-El Paso coach Tim Floyd.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--at Alabama-Birmingham, Feb. 1

KEY MATCHUPS: UAB Senior F Cameron Moore was averaging a double-double through Jan. 28 with 15.7 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots a game. The Blazers will be without sophomore F Jordan Swing (broken hand), who had an 11.1 scoring average. Houston has lost three of its last four games against UAB.

--at Tulane, Feb. 4

KEY MATCHUPS: Freshman G Ricky Tarrant led three Tulane players scoring in double figures with a 14.0 average through Jan. 28, while junior G Jordan Callahan was averaging 11.8. Sophomore F Josh Davis had a 10.6 average while also pulling down an average of 9.4 rebounds.

FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore F Alandise Harris had shown improvement in his second college season, as he was averaging 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds through Jan. 28. As a freshman, he had averages of 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds.

PLAYER NOTES

--Sophomore walk-on G Jimmie Jones has taken the long road to Division I.

Jones spent the 2009-10 season playing at the junior college level at Navarro College in Texas with two current Houston teammates, senior G Darian Thibodeaux and junior F Leon Gibson. However, Jones missed the first half of the season with a shoulder injury and played sparingly upon his return.

Jones decided to join Thibodeaux and Gibson at Houston in the fall of 2010. Jones did not play basketball in his first year on campus but decided to try out as a walk-on in October 2011 and made the team.

Jones had played in five of Houston's seven Conference USA games through Jan. 28, averaging 9.2 minutes. That came after he appeared in just two nonconference games for a total of three minutes.

"He makes this team real good," Thibodeaux said. "His mind-set is to get it to the best person that's in the best position to score. He's not a score-first point guard, he's a pass-first point guard. It's really rare because everybody wants to score."

--Freshman F TaShawn Thomas had 16 points and 12 rebounds in an 81-76 overtime victory over Texas-El Paso on Jan. 28. It was his fifth double-double of the season and his seventh double-figure rebounding game.

--Sophomore F Alandise Harris had 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against UTEP for his first double-double of the season and third of his career. It was Harris' sixth career double-digit rebounding game.


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