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HomeSportsUT
Published: Sunday, 12/21/2008

Sloppy Rockets fall to Cougars

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The University of Toledo men's basketball team let Houston play how it wanted Saturday night and gave the Cougars a lot of help in pulling that off.

In the Rockets' 71-63 loss at Savage Arena, they had 22 turnovers that led to 28 Cougars points. UT, which averages nearly 20 turnovers a game, dropped to 2-8.

"Being 2-8 right now is kind of devastating, but I'm just looking on the good side of it, making us better toward MAC play," senior Jonathan Amos said.

Amos led the Rockets with 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. UT fell down by double digits in both halves in front of the crowd of 4,927.

Houston was able to do what it loves, get out and run. It happened after UT players continually lost control of the ball in the lane and got their pockets picked several times to start fast breaks. The Cougars (7-1) were also able to break down the floor after blocking six Rockets shots.

"It's something that has bitten us the entire year," UT coach Gene Cross said of UT's turnovers.

"To tell you the truth, I'm at my wit's end, but rest assured we will correct this turnover problem. It's carelessness the way we handle the basketball."

UT started the game poised to keep up with Houston's quick-paced style, making four of its first five shots.

Things quickly went cold for the Rockets after that, and they fell down by 11. Houston's Kelvin Lewis' jump shot was falling, scoring a game-high 21. Marcus Cousin added 15 points inside.

The Rockets stayed in the game when Ridley Johnson got hot, and UT trailed by five at halftime. Johnson made three 3-pointers, as many as he had in the first nine games of the season after he was slowed early by offseason knee surgery. But he tweaked his other knee in the second half and was in and out of the game after that, finishing with 15 points.

Early in the second half UT closed its deficit to 43-41 when Tyrone Kent split a pair of free throws.

The Cougars responded with a 10-0 run, punctuated by two 3-pointers.

"They are terrific at pushing the ball at you," Cross said. "I thought they did a good job of taking advantage and scoring off our turnovers."

UT was able to keep making runs by hitting a season-high eight 3-pointers, but turnovers did the Rockets in again and again.

UT outrebounded the Cougars but shot just 36.5 percent, the second straight game the team has been under 40 percent from the field.

"It was poor execution, not taking care of the ball and the lack of focus," Amos said.

Kent, UT's leading scorer, failed to reach double figures for the second straight game. He shot 1-of-12 from the floor for six points and had eight turnovers.

"I've got to find a way to get him going, get him moving and get him doing other things," Cross said. "We have to have him put the ball in the hole for us to be successful."

Anthony Byrd added 12 points for the Rockets, who have a quick turnaround, playing Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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