Men's Basketball Wraps up Regular Season vs. Rice on Saturday

March 3, 2011

RICE OWLS (12-17 • 4-11 C-USA)
at HOUSTON COUGARS (12-16 • 4-11 C-USA)
 Time  5 p.m. • Saturday, March 5, 2011
 Location  Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) • Houston, Texas
 Tickets  Ticket Information
 Series History  Houston leads 57-15
 Last Time  Rice won 79-71 (OT) • Jan. 26, 2011
 Tudor Fieldhouse • Houston, Texas
 Radio  Live Streaming
 Houston Sports Network • Sports Talk 790 AM • KBME
 Tom Franklin, PxP; Elvin Hayes
 Broadcast begins at 4:45 p.m.
 Television  Live Streaming
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Notes  Houston Notes Get Acrobat Reader
 Rice Notes Get Acrobat Reader
 Conference USA Notebook Get Acrobat Reader
 Social Media   FacebookTwitter

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.

Prior to Saturday's game, the Cougars will recognize their 2011 senior class. Houston will pay tribute to guards Cory Tellis, Adam Brown and Zamal Nixon and forward Maurice McNeil and their families.

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.

Saturday will be a busy day in Hofheinz Pavilion for the Houston basketball teams. Prior to the men's game, the Cougar women's team will play host to Tulane at 2 p.m.

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.

With the purchase of a men's ticket to the Rice game, fans will receive free admission to the women's game. For only $15, fans can buy a ticket to both games. Tickets for the women's game only start as low as $8.

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.

Saturday's game can be heard live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes serving as analyst. The pregame show begins at 4:45 p.m.

Fans can follow live stats from Saturday's game by clicking the GameTracker link at UHCougars.com.

With a win against Rice, the Cougars will clinch the No. 10 seed at next week's Buick Conference USA Championship, hosted by UTEP at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. That seeding would put the Cougars against the No. 7 seed in Wednesday's first-round action.

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.

Rice has posted a 12-17 overall record this season and is 4-11 in C-USA games. The Owls are tied with Houston for 10th place in the latest league standings.

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.

This marks the 16th straight season and the 38th time in the last 40 years that the Cougars will face Rice on the hardwood. The Cougars own a 57-15 (.792) record 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 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.

The Cougars open play at the 2011 Buick Conference USA Championship, hosted by UTEP at the Don Haskins Center, on Wednesday.

Houston's first-round opponent and game time will be determined at the end of the regular season when the final seeding is announced.



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