HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 17, 2008) The University of Houston men's basketball team will square off against Nevada at 8 p.m. (CDT), Tuesday at the Lawlor Events Center during the first round of the 2008 College Basketball Invitational.
The Cougars received the No. 3 seed in the West Regional and will face the second-seeded Wolfpack in the opening round. If the Cougars win Tuesday, they will face the winner of the No. 1 Washington-No. 4 Valparaiso game in the second round on March 24.
Tuesday's game also will be televised by Fox College Sports. Radio arrangements will be announced Monday when they are finalized.
This will be the third time in the last four years that the Cougars will compete in the postseason after earning NIT invitations in 2005 and 2006.
It also marks the first time since 1990-93 that the Cougars will compete in the postseason three times during a four-year stretch.
Tuesday's game marks the first time the two teams have met on the hardwood since the Cougars enjoyed a 92-80 win in Reno on Feb. 8, 1993. The Cougars own a 6-1 all-time record against the Wolfpack with wins in each of the last three meetings.
Senior guard Robert McKiver leads the Cougars with 23.1 points per game and ranks second in Conference USA with 1.8 steals per game. The New Haven, Conn., native, who was named to the All-Conference USA First Team for the second-straight season, also recently garnered honors on the USBWA All-District 7 First Team and the NABC All-District 9 Team.
Senior forward Dion Dowell is tops with 6.7 rebounds per game with senior forward Tafari Toney a close second with six boards per contest.
Senior guard Lanny Smith leads UH with nearly four assists per game and recently became only the fourth player in school history to top 500 assists during his career.
The Cougars earned the postseason berth after finishing third in Conference USA and posting a 22-9 overall record. It was the program's highest win total since the 1991-92 team finished 25-6.
The Cougars also recorded a program-best 11 wins in Conference USA play and reached double digits in C-USA wins for the second straight season. That marked the first time since 1990-92 that UH accomplished that feat.
The invitation will be nothing new for Penders, who will guide his 19th team to the postseason during his storied 34-year history as a head coach. Penders, who recorded his 600th win and competed in his 1,000th game as a head coach earlier this season
With their most recent postseason berth, Penders and his coaching staff have brought the Cougar program a long way. In the four years prior to Penders' arrival at UH, the Cougars posted a combined 44-73 record with only one NIT appearance in 2002.
Since Penders joined the UH program in 2004, the Cougars have posted a combined 79-48 record with Penders setting a school record for the most wins by a head coach through his first four seasons.
Nevada (21-10, 12-4 WAC) comes into the game after an 83-75 loss to New Mexico State during the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. The Wolfpack finished as WAC regular-season co-champions and enter Tuesday's game as winners of 13 of their last 18 games.
Senior guard Marcelus Kemp leads Nevada with 19.8 points per game and is one of four Wolfpack players averaging double digits in points. Sophomore forward JaVale McGee is tops with 7.4 rebounds per contest, while Kemp and freshman guard Armon Johnson pace the team with more than three assists per game.
The 16-team postseason event will be staged by The Gazelle Group, which is based in Princeton, N.J., and runs the 2K Sports College Hoop Classic that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer and the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.
It will be a single-elimination tournament through the first two rounds and the semifinals, all played at campus sites. The Championship Series will be a best-of-three with the higher-seeded team playing at home in the first game and, if necessary, the third.
The first round is scheduled for March 18-19. The Championship Series will be March 31, April 2 and April 4.
2008 COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL OPENING ROUND SCHEDULE
(3) Houston at (2) Nevada, 8 p.m. (CDT)
(4) Valparaiso at (1) Washington, 8 p.m. (CDT)
(4) Richmond at (1) Virginia, 6 p.m. (CDT)
(3) Rider at (2) Old Dominion, TBA
(4) Utah at (1) UTEP, TBA
(3) Miami (Ohio) at (2) Tulsa, TBA
(3) Brown at (2) Ohio, TBA
(4) Cincinnati at (1) Bradley, 6 P.M. (CDT)