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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Coogs blast Chicago State 79-57

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POSTED: December 22, 2012 -- 7:32 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Hofheinz Pavilion) -- A slow start Saturday afternoon did not stop the Houston Cougars from earning their ninth victory of the season. Trailing 18-16, the Cougars finished the first half with a 24 to 7 run and cruised to a 79-57 win over the Chicago State Cougars in front of an announced crowd of 3,113 fans.

Joseph Young led Houston with a game-high 24 points on 8 for 17 field goal shooting (5 for 10 on threes). Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half and pulled down eight rebounds. Leon Gibson grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.

After the game, Young and Thomas both told the media they believed the slow start was due to having a week off.

With 9:39 remaining in the first half, TaShawn Thomas scored a layup and added the free throw for an And 1 to put Houston (9-2) ahead 19-18 over Chicago State (3-11). The Coogs held Chicago State scoreless the next three minutes and scored nine points during that span to lead 28-18 at the 6:31 mark of the opening half.

Houston's lead grew to 15 in the first half capped with a 40-25 lead at halftime.

Joseph Young scored the first eight points of the second half to boost Houston's lead to 23. After Chicago State ended their scoreless drought, Young nailed another three point shot for a 51-27 Houston lead. Freshman Danuel House finished a fast break with a jam to give the Coogs a 26 point lead (53-27).

Houston led by as much as 27 points (70-43) as 17-year old freshman big Valentine Izundu took advantage of his playing time and scored nine points and blocked three shots in 10 minutes of action.

The Coogs will enjoy a few days off for the holiday break before returning to practice in preparation for their December 29th home game with Prairie View A&M. Tip is set for 3 pm. The game will be the second match-up between the two teams this season: Prairie View defeated Houston on November 28 81-80 at Prairie View.

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