Defense top priority as TU visits Houston
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
1/23/13 at 7:52 AM
The Houston Cougars can be a potent basketball team. In eight games this season, they scored at least 80 points. The University of Tulsa reached the 80-point mark only twice.
At 77.8 points per game, Houston leads Conference USA in scoring. Tulsa averages 64.7.
"(The Cougars) have four guys scoring in double figures in conference play," Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning said. "They like to play fast and they are explosive. We've got our work cut out for us."
However, Houston is vulnerable when it struggles from 3-point range. Entering Wednesday's 7 p.m. C-USA clash with TU, the Cougars are 1-3 in league play. Poor shooting was a prominent factor in a three-game losing streak.
During a 19-point setback at Southern Miss, Houston was 4-of-25 on 3-pointers. During an 11-point defeat at East Carolina, Houston was 2-of-9 on trey attempts. During a 79-75 overtime home loss to Central Florida, the Cougars were 6-of-20 on 3-pointers.
"We're certainly not as cerebral as we needed to be with the ball," James Dickey, Houston's third-year coach and a former Oklahoma State assistant, said following the Central Florida game. "We want to get the ball inside. Even if you get a 3, you can penetrate and pitch. When you look at the 3-point percentage and our conference 3-point percentage, it was 22 percent going into this game.
"We're not shooting the ball as well. That happens in conference play."
For Manning and TU, that is Objective No. 1 on Wednesday - to force Houston into bad shots and missed shots, and to crash the defensive boards. Dating to 1996, Tulsa 1-5 in six contests at Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion.
"That's what every game comes down to - defense," Hurricane freshman guard James Woodard said. "For our team, especially. Our team is built on defense."
Tulsa is 11-8 overall, 3-2 in conference play. The Hurricane was defensively excellent during last week's 45-42 conquest of UTEP, limiting the Miners to 35 percent shooting while rolling to a 36-21 advantage in rebounds.
Three days later, as Tulane prevailed 75-72 over the Hurricane, the Green Wave popped the Tulsa defense for 10 3-point baskets.
"We had an opportunity to win a conference game on the road, and we didn't," Manning said. "That's how I see the game. We did some good things, yes, but ultimately, we didn't get the win. At this level, it's all about production and results."
Said Woodard: "The Tulane game was really a fun game to play in. Uptempo. Fast. With that win, it would have put us (near) the top of the conference. We let that one slip through our fingers."
Tulsa (11-8, 3-2 Conference USA)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Black ||6-8|| 6.6|| 5.2|
|G ||Peete ||6-4 ||2.9 ||2.5|
|G ||Haralson ||6-4 ||9.1 ||3.5|
|G ||Woodard ||6-4 ||13.2 ||5.9|
|G ||Harrison ||6-3 ||6.3 ||3.6|
Houston (12-5, 1-3 C-USA)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||House|| 6-7 ||13.6|| 5.4|
|F ||Thomas ||6-8|| 15.9 ||9.8|
|F ||Gibson ||6-9|| 7.2 ||6.8|
|G ||Thompson ||6-0 ||6.6 ||1.4|
|G ||Young ||6-3|| 17.0 ||3.7|
TU up next
7:05 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Defense is priority for TU
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU's Pat Swilling Jr. tries to get around UTEP's John Bohannon during their game last week at the Reynolds Center. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World