Wildcats ready to declaw Cougars

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The last time Arizona faced the Houston Cougars, the brotherhood of Phi Slamma Jamma outmanned the Wildcats, overwhelming them by 41 points.

Don't count on that happening tonight.

The Cougars prowl into town to take on the Arizona men's basketball team at 7:30 p.m. at McKale Center in the first meeting between the schools since Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Ralph Sampson were there, back when "Hakeem" still started with an "A". In other words, since the last time Houston was successful.

But that doesn't mean the game will be easy. Even though the No. 8 Wildcats (4-1) were outrebounded by Florida State Tuesday due largely to the absence of junior center Joseph Blair, who was forced to sit because of an academic suspension given by UA coach Lute Olson they shot almost 64 percent from the field in the second half. Arizona's sharp shooting limited FSU's rebounds by limiting the chance for Seminole rebounds.

It's still easier said than done, however. As evidenced by Arizona's season-opening loss to Minnesota in which the team shot a paltry 36 percent in the second half, the Wildcats can be just as cold as they are hot. In other words, keeping up the intensity will be key.

"We have to keep going," guard Damon Stoudamire said. "We can't take any team lightly or have any letdowns, because we can't afford to. Right now, we're on a high, we've had two great games Michigan and Florida State that we've won and we've got to keep our momentum going because the break is about to come up and we don't want to go into the break on any losing notes."

It would be difficult not to avoid any letdowns. With its 96-point effort Tuesday, Arizona raised its average to close to 85 points a game. On the other hand, Houston (1-2), led by sophomore forward Tim Moore, averages just 64.7 points per game, more than 11 points less than its opponents. Still, this is college basketball, and upsets are always possible.

"They're going to be a good team, really athletic, so we really have to stay focused," guard Miles Simon said.

"They'll come in with some pretty good size again up front," Olson said. "The thing that I indicated to our guys in the locker room (right after the win over FSU) is that we've got to make sure that we don't come in any less prepared mentally for Thursday night than we would for (Tuesday night)."

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