March 2, 2010
RICE OWLS (8-20 1-13 C-USA) at HOUSTON COUGARS (14-14 6-8 C-USA)
March 3, 2010 Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) Houston, Texas 7 p.m.
RADIO: Houston-ISP Sports Radio Network SportsTalk 790 AM-Houston Tom Franklin, PxP
Pregame show begins at 6:45 p.m.
INTERNET VIDEO: live video broadcast
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
HOUSTON - The University of Houston men's basketball team begins the final week of the regular season at 7 p.m., Wednesday when it plays host to Conference USA- and crosstown-rival Rice inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Cougars (14-14 6-8 C-USA) enter Wednesday's game on the heels of a tough 94-83 loss at SMU on Saturday. Although they built a 6-point halftime cushion, Houston fell victim to hot second-half shooting from the Mustangs, who connected on 16-of-24 shots on the way to 61 points in the final period.
Against the Mustangs, senior guard Aubrey Coleman led the Cougars with 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and no turnovers while playing all 40 minutes. For his impressive performances in two games, the Houston native was honored Monday as the C-USA Player of the Week for the fifth time this season.
Coleman, who leads the nation with 25.9 points per game and ranks second with 2.8 steals per contest, also stands eighth in the league with 7.5 rebounds per game, making him one of only three players in C-USA to rank that high in both categories.
Senior guard Kelvin Lewis ranks second on the team with 15.1 points per game and leads the league with 3.1 3-pointers per game. Sophomore point guard Desmond Wade is tops with 5.0 assists per game and stands 22nd nationally with a 2.48-1 assist-turnover ratio.
During the last three seasons, the Cougar seniors have been a part of 59 wins and helped lead the program to back-to-back postseason appearances.
CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT PICTURE
With the final week of the regular season, the picture is beginning to clear up on the seeding for the Conference USA Tournament, hosted by Tulsa for the first time at the BOK Center on March 10-13.
The Cougars are currently tied for seventh place in the latest Conference USA standings with Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles own the tiebreaker against Houston. The Cougars can rise no higher than the No. 6 seed and can be no lower than the No. 10 seed but could fall anywhere in between.
While they do not know who or when they will play first, the Cougars do know that they will play Wednesday, the first day of the postseason event.
Houston's seeding, opponent and game time will be finalized with the completion of the regular season this weekend. Fans and media should stay tuned to UHCougars.com for the latest information.
Wednesday's game will feature more than a game between the University of Houston and Rice University intercollegiate teams. Student groups from both schools will square off in a shootout throughout the night.
During breaks at Wednesday's game, student groups from both Houston and Rice will compete in the New York Life Shootout Skills Challenge.
New York Life, a proud supporter of Houston Athletics and through their partnership with the CT Bauer College of Business, will host the shootout for student groups.
Students are encouraged to come out to Wednesday's game to register their groups for a chance to raise money for their organizations.
All funds will be granted, courtesy of New York Life, and each shot made will be worth a cash donation. Students have a chance to win as much as $9,000.
Registration for student groups begins at 6 p.m., on the concourse at the Cullen Street entrance of Hofheinz Pavilion.
Fans can hear Wednesday's game live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Fans can follow live stats at UHCougars.com by clicking the GameTracker link.
Rice (8-20 1-13 C-USA) will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak when it meets the Cougars on Wednesday night. In their most recent action, the Owls dropped a 78-64 decision at Conference USA-leader UTEP on Saturday. In that game, freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi led the Owls with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Senior guard Lawrence Ghoram chipped in with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while junior forward Suleiman Braimoh and freshman forward Chris Eversley each posted 10 points apiece.
This season, freshman guard Tamir Jackson leads the Owls with 11.0 points, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Kazemi is tops with 8.9 boards and 0.9 blocks per contest.
Ben Braun is in his second year at the helm of the Rice bench, posting an 18-41 (.305) record during that time.
In more than 32 seasons as a head coach, Braun has compiled a 570-431 (.569) career record. He previously served as head coach at Siena Heights (1977-85), Eastern Michigan (1985-96) and California (1996-08) before taking over at Rice for the 2008-09 season.
Braun is 2-4 (.333) against the Cougars during his career. That includes a 2-1 mark during his stint at California and an 0-3 mark at Rice.
SERIES HISTORY vs. RICE
For the 15th straight season, the 37th time in the last 39 years and the second time in 2009-10, the Cougars face Rice on the hardwood. The Cougars own a 56-14 (.800) in the all-time series, which began in 1971-72 and has been played at least once every year since the 1998-99 campaign.
With the exception of the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, the Cougars have played Rice at least once every year since 1971-72.
Houston claimed an 83-66 win at Hofheinz Pavilion on Jan. 6.
The Cougars have posted a 28-5 (.848) all-time record at home against Rice. UH has won its last three and seven of its last eight home games against the Owls. Only a 62-52 setback on Dec. 3, 2003, prevents a much longer home winning streak.
Fans can purchase men's basketball tickets online at UHCougars.com by clicking the Tickets link, by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Single-game tickets for the Rice game are available now.
The radio show airs live from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays for the remainder of the season. The next edition of The Pulse with Tom Penders will broadcast live on Thursday, March 4, from Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill (6225 Washington, 77077).
The show can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com and will be hosted by the "Voice of the Cougars" Tom Franklin.
Fans are invited to join Penders and Franklin at the selected restaurant each week as the duo discusses recent Cougar Basketball action and upcoming games, college basketball, the world of sports and much more.
Fans also can click the "Ask Coach Penders" button on the main page at UHCougars.com to submit a question that could be asked on the show.
The location for the final broadcast will be announced at a later date as the Cougars compete at the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship in Tulsa, Okla., beginning March 10.
The Cougars wrap up the regular season at 7 p.m., Saturday, when they meet C-USA rival Tulane in Fogelman Arena.
The game can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM or on the Internet at UHCougars.com with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action. The pregame show is slated to begin at 6:45 p.m.