HOUSTON (AP) - Dion Dowell scored 19 points and Robert McIver
added 18 as Houston matched its best start since the days of Phi
Slama Jama with an 83-69 victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Tafari Toney had nine points and eight rebounds and Lanny Smith
had eight assists for the Cougars (10-1), who are off to their best
start since the 1983-84 team won 10 of its first 11. That team, led
by Hakeem Olajuwon, lost to Georgetown in the NCAA championship
Joe Crawford scored 28 points and Jodie Meeks had 21 in his
return from an injury for the Wildcats (4-5), who have lost four
straight for the first time since 1989-90 when Rick Pitino's first
Kentucky team dropped five in a row.
The sharp-shooting Meeks had missed the last six games with a
stress fracture in his pelvic area.
The Cougars outrebounded Kentucky 38-33 and forced 18 turnovers
to overcome 36 percent shooting.
Houston led 45-33 at halftime, then pulled away with defense and
The Wildcats went the final 6:21 of the first half without a
field goal, missing four shots and committing four turnovers.
Michael Porter hit a 3-pointer from the corner 17 seconds into the
second half to snap Kentucky's field goal drought.
But the Cougars went back to the smothering zone defense they
used in the first half, and the Wildcats promptly committed two
turnovers and lost their shooting touch again.
Toney hit a free throw and McIver made a 3-pointer from the wing
to start a decisive 16-5 run. Toney scored twice on putbacks to
extend the lead to 53-37.
Crawford picked off a steal, drove for a layup and converted a
three-point play with 14:36 left. But the 6-foot-8 Toney turned
another offensive rebound into a three-point play at the other end.
Houston's lead went over 20 and the Wildcats' frustration boiled
over not long after that, when Crawford wrapped up Mark Malone and
was called for an intentional foul. The two played faced off
briefly before a referee stepped between them.
Kentucky made a mild run too late. Crawford converted a
three-point play with 2:52 left to cut Houston's lead to 74-64. The
Cougars broke the Wildcats' full-court press and Kelvin Lewis
finished the fast break with an alley-oop pass to Dowell for a
Meeks carried Kentucky's offense in the first half, scoring 17
The Cougars came in averaging more than 10 3-pointers per game,
but they missed nine of their first 14 attempts. Brockeith Pane and
Dowell both hit one as Houston finished the half with a 10-0 run.
Houston retired Michael Young's No. 42 jersey at halftime. Young
was a starter on the Phi Slama Jama teams that reached three Final
Fours between 1982-84.