Conference USA - Quarterfinals, Afternoon Session
(7) Houston 66, (2) Memphis 65
As if we didn't know that it's March, Houston's senior guard Aubrey Coleman made sure we know that the calendar says March, knocking down the game-winning shot, a runner in the lane, with five seconds left. Coming off yesterday's 29-point performance, Coleman, the nation's leading scorer, dropped 21 on Memphis today. One more day of heroics, and the C-USA officially becomes the Aubrey Coleman show.
The Big Picture: Houston 's improbable C-USA Tournament run is still on and showing every indication that it could continue. The Cougars have won their two C- USA tourney games in dramatically different ways. Wednesday's win was a running-and-gunning rout of an overmatched East Carolina squad, while today's win required clutch play from the highest-scoring player in C-USA.
The Good: This wasn't a vintage Cougars' victory, as Houston typically gets lots of its points on three-pointers and in transition. That wasn't the case against Memphis this afternoon, as Houston finished the game with only six fast-break points, and made just 6-of-25 triples. What's so good about that? What's good is that Tom Penders' squad found other ways to score and win this critical game.
Houston built a 36-27 halftime lead by putting the ball on the deck and getting to the basket. Half of Houston's 36 first-half points were scored in the paint. The Cougars also came up with 6 second chance points, which was a direct product of the 22 offensive boards they snared. It wasn't a particularly poetic or attractive display of ball, but it was effective.
The Bad: Memphis 's superlative sophomore guard Elliott Williams had a nightmare of a game, going 1-of-9 from the floor and misfiring on all four 3-pointers he took. Williams was also unusually mistake-prone, turning the rock over four times.
The Ugly: Former WWF patsy Barry O offered more fight than the Tigers did on the interior today. Josh Pastner's squad was outrebounded 46-33, but that's not really the worst of it. The worst of it is the 22 offensive boards Houston was able to corral, as compared to only 6 for Memphis. We don't have the historical statistics, but we'd be willing to wager that no team has ever won a postseason game in which it was pounded 22-6 on the offensive glass.
By popular demand, there's going to be an encore performance of the Aubrey Coleman show at the BOK Center in Tulsa tomorrow at roughly 5:30 local time (6:30 Eastern), when Houston squares off with Southern Mississippi. Coleman and the Cougars were on the short end of a 57-55 result in the only meeting between the two teams this season. There will be no encore for the Tigers, as they should be heading east on I-40 tomorrow.