Men's Basketball Falls to Rice in Regular-Season Finale
Nixon, who ranks among the Conference USA top-five individual leaders in assists, steals, free-throw percentage and assist-turnover ratio, connected on 5-of-10 shots from the field and 7-of-8 attempts from the line. The Brooklyn, N.Y, native also added four assists, a blocked shot and steal in 37 minutes.
After the Cougars moved to within 13-12 early, Rice used a 20-7 run during a 10-and-a-half minute stretch to build a lead they would never give up. The Cougars fought and clawed their way back into the game in the second half, trimming the deficit to seven points on two occasions.
However, that would be as close as Houston would get the rest of the way. With the loss, the Cougars dropped to 12-17 overall and finished at 4-12 in C-USA games. Rice improved to 13-17 overall and to 5-11 in C-USA games.
Freshman forward Alandise Harris and junior guard Darian Thibodeaux each added 12 points to pace the Cougars. Senior forward Maurice McNeil added seven points and a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.
Making the first start of his career, senior guard Cory Tellis tied with Nixon for team-high honors with four assists.
Rice forward Lucas Kuipers led four Owls in double digits with 15 points and added five rebounds. Arsalan Kazemi and Tamir Jackson each finished with 13 points, while Connor Frizzelle added 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Kazemi led the Owls with eight rebounds, while Jackson paced all players with five assists.
The Thundering Herd enjoyed a 63-62 win against the Cougars on Feb. 1 in Hofheinz Pavilion. It was the lone meeting between the two teams during the regular season.
The winner of Wednesday's first-round matchup will meet No. 3 seed UTEP at 6:30 p.m. (CST), Thursday, in the quarterfinals.
Fans can hear all Cougar men's basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes serving as analyst.