Memphis Tigers vs. Houston (7 pm, FEF)


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• The Cougars enter tonight’s game with a record of 10-8 (3-2 in Conference USA play). They lead C-USA in scoring (82.7 points per game) but have also given up the most points in the league (76.6). Houston has won each of its road games in C-USA play (at Rice and East Carolina). And they beat UTEP at home on January 13th. Their conference losses came against Tulsa and last Wednesday against UCF.


• Houston’s senior guard Aubrey Coleman has the inside track for C-USA Player of the Year honors. Coleman leads the country in scoring with 25.3 points per game and leads C-USA in steals (3.3). Remarkably, he’s also second on the Cougars in rebounding (7.4). Senior guard Kelvin Lewis is averaging 17.0 points, while junior forward Maurice McNeil is averaging 8.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. Lewis is among the best three-point shooters in the country. (The Tigers’ Elliot Williams is second to Coleman in C-USA scoring.)

• The Tigers have won their last 10 meetings with Houston, including wins in the 2007 and 2009 C-USA tourneys. The Cougars last beat Memphis on February 5, 2005. The most famous Memphis-Houston cat fights came in the NCAA tournament in 1983 and 1984. Each year, a top-five Houston team led by Hakeem Olajuwon beat a top-20 Memphis team led by Keith Lee in the Sweet Sixteen. (And each year, Houston lost in the national championship game.) Overall, Memphis holds a 23-10 lead in the series.

• Alumni of Tufts University don’t get to boast of much in the national sports arena. But as long as Houston coach Tom Penders continues to climb the alltime wins chart, the Jumbos have a source of athletic pride. (Penders coached at Tufts from 1971 to 1974 and won 54 games there.) Having also coached at Columbia, Fordham, Rhode Island, Texas, and George Washington, Penders enters tonight’s game with 639 career victories.

• The last time Memphis lost consecutive games was at the end of the 2004-05 regular season, when the Tigers lost four straight between February 23rd and March 5th.

• Houston is one of five C-USA opponents Memphis will play twice this season (along with Tulsa, SMU, Southern Miss, and UAB).

• The Tigers have been outrebounded in their last three games and five of their last seven.

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