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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2008

University of Toledo men's basketball wants to slow high-scoring Houston

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Saturday's opponent for the University of Toledo men's basketball team, the Houston Cougars, come into Savage Arena averaging 81 points per game.

The Rockets have only come close to that total once this season, scoring 77 points in a win over West Georgia. So it's clear some things will need to change for UT to win its third game of the year.

The Cougars are making eight 3-pointers a game and shooting nearly 46 percent. UT (2-7) is scoring just 56.4 points per game. That's 317th in the country out of 330 teams. But for tonight, that total will be fine with UT coach Gene Cross.

"We have to control the pace," Cross said. "They want to score 80 points a game, and in this game, if it's in the 50s or 60s, I feel like we're going to give ourselves a good chance to win."

Houston (6-1) rarely turns the ball over, so the Rockets have to hold second-chance points to a minimum. Despite some young post players the Rockets have a positive rebounding margin this season.

"One of the things they do really well is rebound," senior Anthony Byrd said. "That's one of the things we've been focusing on."

Cross has been pleased with how practice has gone the last few days. He feels the group has moved past the poor outing at Wright State last week and thinks building some confidence will go a long way for the Rockets.

"I felt like everybody was on the same page at practice," Cross said. "I felt everybody's energy and focus. They were just a different group. I'm going to try to build on that.

"They have to remember they're a good team, that they're good players, and that I believe in them. I want them to be successful. That's why I drive them so hard."

FRESHMAN FEATURED: The Rockets' Clayton Sterling, a freshman point guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., will be part of a documentary that will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. The film, A Woman Among Boys, portrays Ruth Lovelace, Sterling's high school coach at Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn. For 14 years Lovelace has coached in New York City's toughest basketball league and turned the program around.

Sterling is featured throughout the film, including in his recruiting trip to UT last summer.

"She's a really strong woman," Sterling said of Lovelace. "A lot of people doubted her because she was a female. She coached boys and led us to the championship game. Even though we lost, it was a big accomplishment."

- Maureen Fulton



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