Full-Court Press: Houston 87, Arkansas 78

by Jim Harris  on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 10:05 pm  

Arkansas' Rickey Scott finds the inside physical as he tries to drive on Houston's Joseph Young in the Hogs' 87-78 loss to the Cougars on Friday night at Verizon Arena. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Houston 87, Arkansas 78

Why Arkansas Lost
Houston was caught up in Arkansas' frantic pace for much of the first half and trailed 34-26 with 3 minutes left in the first half, but from that point the Cougars calmed down and outscored the Razorbacks 35-13 to take control with less than 12 minutes to play. Houston then withstood a furious Arkansas rally, when the Hogs went to a lineup with no player taller than 6-foot-5 freshman Ky Madden, by converting offensive rebounds for baskets and making its free throws late to pull away to the nine-point win. The Hogs had cut a 15-point deficit to four, 72-68, before running out of gas in the final four minutes in falling at North Little Rock's Verizon Arena.

Turning Point
While Houston opened the second half with a 23-8 explosion to take a 59-44 lead, UH Coach James Dickey pointed to the 10-2 run the Cougars managed over the last three minutes of the first half to tie the game at 36 as the turning point that let Houston hit the locker room with the momentum. Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said afterward that he felt the momentum was still up in the air, but two quick turnovers, including a charging call on Rickey Scott that wiped out a layup, seemed to take the air temporarily out of Arkansas' game. Then, every time the Hogs made a late change, Alandise Harris or TaShawn Thomas came up with killer rebound baskets inside to thwart the Razorbacks' moment and temporarily quiet a vociferous crowd of 11,668 Hogs fans in Verizon Arena.

Player Of The Game
Little Rock Central product Alandise Harris said after the game he grew up following the Razorbacks and wanting to be a Hog, and the previous Arkansas coaching staff contacted and recruited him. When he signed with Houston, he asked Houston Coach James Dickey if the Cougars might ever play a game in Harris' hometown. Voila, they schedule this one in North Little Rock, and after a tight first few minutes when Harris made more turnovers than baskets, the 6-foot-6 sophomore finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, including two critical plays late on the offensive boards that kept the Cougars in control. Harris also netted two foul shots to push the UH lead to 80-72 with a minute to play, effectively ended it for Arkansas.

'Winning' Stats Don't Win for Hogs
Tell Mike Anderson his team would force 20 turnovers and commit only 10 and he'd probably have said his Hogs would have rolled to a victory. But one statistic he lamented was the 10 assists Arkansas managed, and part of that was due to the Hogs inability to finish baskets inside in the second half.

In the other key stats, Houston won the rebound battle 41-30, with 12 offensive rebounds (Arkansas had 13 offensive rebounds for the game but only 4 in the second half). Houston had a 25-11 edge in rebounds in the second half alone, with 8 on the offensive glass. Houston outscored the Hogs 14-4 in second-chance points in the second half after Arkansas had held the edge in that department, 10-5, in the first 20 minutes.

In scoring 51 second-half points the Cougars shot 54 precent from the field to the Hogs' 42.4 percent. After a hot 6-of-9 3-point shooting in the first half, the Cougars made just 1 of 7 in the second, but its domination of the glass made up for that. Plus, Houston hit 14 of 17 second-half foul shots. Arkansas was 1-for-11 on 3-point attempts in the second half and 4-for-17 for the night.

Missing Big Man
Arkansas was without 6-foot-7 junior forward Marshawn Powell for the game. Powell hurt his knee during Arkansas' Thursday evening practice at Verizon Arena in a collision with another player under the basket. The extent of the injury was unknown beyond UA Coach Mike Anderson calling it a "serious" injury; more will be known Monday when tests are taken in Fayetteville. Powell was on the bench Friday night in sweats and a hoodie.

In the meantime, senior forwards Michael Sanchez and Marvell Waithe started and gave Arkansas plenty of effort early. Sanchez had 11 points for the game. But Sanchez only played 23 minutes and Waithe played just 14, as Arkansas spent much of the second half pressing with five guards to erase a Houston lead that quickly reached 15 points in the first eight minutes of the second half.

Also, with Powell sidelined, the Hogs were down to nine scholarship players, all who played Friday. None of the walk-ons saw action.

Houston's sixth man, 6-foot-9 forward Kirk Van Slyke, took advantage of Powell's absense on the inside defensively, scoring 19 points to lead the Cougars before fouling out.

No Home Cooking in NLR
Arkansas has now lost eight of its last 11 games played in Verizon Arena (known as Alltel Arena until 2009), including the last three. The Hogs lost in overtime last year to Alabama-Birmingham 60-55. The last victory came in the 2008-09 season over North Texas. Other wins in the past 12 years came against Rice and Jacksonville. The losses have come at the hands of Oklahoma State, Illinois (twice), Texas Tech, Appalachian State, Baylor, UAB and now Houston.



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