Men's Basketball Wraps up Regular Season vs. Rice on Saturday
March 3, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston men's basketball team wraps up the regular season against a familiar rival when it squares off against Rice at 5 p.m., Saturday, in a Conference USA showdown in Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Cougars enter this weekend's regular-season finale following a tough 80-77 loss at league-rival Tulane on Wednesday in New Orleans. Against the Green Wave, McNeil finished with a team-high 21 points, while Nixon poured in 20 second-half points, including five 3-pointers, to pace the Cougars.
This season, McNeil leads the Cougars with 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The New York native also ranks second in the league, connecting on 53.1 percent of his shots from the field.
Nixon ranks among the league's top-five individual leaders in several categories, including free throw percentage, assists, steals and assist-turnover ratio. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native stands second in the country in free throw percentage with a mark of 91.5.
Freshman forward Alandise Harris ranks fourth on the Cougars with 9.1 points per game but second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per contest. The Little Rock, Ark., native's rebounding total moved higher after grabbing a team-high 10 boards in the loss at Tulane.
The women's team has clinched the C-USA regular-season championship and is looking to become only the second women's team in league history to go undefeated through C-USA games.
Seniors Courtney Taylor, Brittney Scott, Megan Morton, Lesslee Mason, Brittany Mason and Jasmine Johnson will be honored in postgame ceremonies. The Cougars also will receive the 2011 C-USA regular-season championship trophy following their game.
Fans have several options when ordering their men's basketball tickets. They can visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center by the UH Fan Shop, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Fans also can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or click the Tickets tab at UHCougars.com to buy tickets today.
With a loss to Rice, the Cougars will fall to the No. 11 seed and could possibly play as the No. 12 seed depending on the outcome of Tulane's game at Memphis earlier in the day and other tiebreakers on Saturday.
With the exception of the No. 9 seed, all other seeds for the C-USA Championship will be determined with the completion of the regular season Saturday. UCF already has clinched the No. 9 seed.
The Owls have lost their last three games and six of their last seven contests. Only a 67-52 home win against Memphis on Feb. 23 prevents a longer losing streak.
In its most recent action, Rice dropped a 67-57 decision to Tulsa at Tudor Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
Against the Golden Hurricane, Lucas Kuipers came off the bench to score 14 points, while Arsalan Kazemi also made a reserve appearance and finished with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Tamir Jackson added 13 points in the loss.
This season, Kazemi leads Rice with 15.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Jackson stands second with 14.0 points and leads the Owls with 3.4 assists per contest. Connor Frizzelle stands third on the team with 10.6 points per game.
Head coach Ben Braun is in his third year at Rice and his 34th year overall. He has compiled a 582-451 (.563) during his career and is 30-62 (.326) during his tenure at Rice.
Braun has posted a 3-5 (.375) record against Houston during his career, including a 1-4 mark against the Cougars while on the Rice bench.
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 has won eight of the last nine meetings against the Owls. However, the Owls can boast of the most recent success after a 79-71 win in overtime at Tudor Fieldhouse on Jan. 26
The Cougars have posted a 29-4 (.879) all-time record at Hofheinz Pavilion. Houston has won each of its last five home games against Rice. However, those games have been tight affairs with no win being decided by more than nine points.
The Cougars have not lost to Rice at home since a 62-52 setback on Dec. 3, 2003.
Houston's first-round opponent and game time will be determined at the end of the regular season when the final seeding is announced.