Saturday, January 22, 2011

Houston Cougars Drop Close Game To UTEP Miners; Offensive Rebounds Were The Key

(Photo by Robert H Kelly-TexSport Publications, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.)

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2011 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (January 22, 2011) Coming into tonight’s game, the Houston Cougars (11-7, 3-2 C-USA) held at an 8-10 record against UTEP Miners (16-4, 4-1 C-USA). They were hoping to cut that deficit and move to within one win of breaking even in the series.

Despite the lead changing back and forth with both teams playing a rough and aggressive game, the Miners pulled out a 57-52 win over the Cougars.

The game was like a toy from my youth; “Rock ‘Em' Sock “Em” Robots. One team would hit. The other team would hit. They would trade baskets. They would trade fouls.

The very vocal crowd of students, alumni, and fans was definitely on the side of the Red and White, but there was here and there, a sprinkling of orange, blue, white and silver (the official UTEP school colors).

Rebounding was the key and the Cougars could not find a way to get the ball after they missed a shot. They managed a mire three offensive rebounds in the game.

Match that with the Miners’ 14 offensive boards and that was the deciding factor in the game.

The was obvious to everyone watching the game and Houston head coach James Dickey reinforced that fact in the post game press conference.

He was quoted “The two areas that were significant to the game were offensive rebounds – they had 14 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points from that. They also got to the free throw line 22 times, and we only got there 10 times. Free throws and offensive rebounding were the difference tonight.”

Both teams were almost even in defensive boards (UH-28, UTEP-29), but the points off of second-chance shots could (and should) have made the difference for the Cougars.

Adam Brown led the Cougars with 22 points followed by Kirk Van Slyke with 12. No one got into the double digits in rebounds, with Van Slyke leading with seven.

On the Miners’ side of the court, Randy Culpepper led with 18 points while Jeremy Williams chipped in 15.

Julyan Stone led the game with 14 rebounds, 13 of them on defense.

The game was a test for the Cougars, who will next travel across town to face Rice on January 26. The results of that test is that they need to step up on the offensive end of the court.

They need to raise their free throw percentage, get more offensive boards, and second chance points.

If they fail to accomplish these goals, their season is going to come to a screeching stop before their potential is realized.

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