Men's Basketball Opens C-USA Championship vs. Rice on Wednesday
March 12, 2013
The Last Meeting
March 6, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - For the third time this season, the University of Houston Men's Basketball team will face crosstown-rival Rice at 6 p.m., Wednesday, when they compete in the Conference USA Championship First Round inside the BOK Center.
The two teams split the regular-season series with each team winning on its home court. The winner of Wednesday's game advanced to the C-USA Championship Quarterfinals and a showdown against No. 3 seed UTEP at 2:30 p.m., Thursday.
The Cougars (18-11 7-9 C-USA) are playing as well as anyone in the league entering Wednesday's game. Houston has won each of its last three games and will play as the No. 6 seed at the tournament, the program's highest seeding since competing at No. 5 in 2009.
Houston is led by a pair of All-Conference USA performers. Sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas is one of only two players to rank among the league's top-five leaders in both scoring and rebounding and earned a place on the All-Conference USA First Team on Monday afternoon.
The Killen, Texas, native, who later received a place on the league's All-Defensive Team, does a little of everything for the Cougars, ranking first on the team in rebounding, steals and blocked shots and second in scoring and assists.
Young has been a steady offensive performer for the Cougars all season and recently reclaimed the top spot in the league's scoring race. With his career-high 32-point effort at Tulane on Saturday in the regular-season finale, the Houston native and Yates High product now averages 18.54 points per game, just ahead of East Carolina's Maurice Kemp (18.48 ppg).
Young, who was an All-Conference USA Third-Team selection, has scored at least 20 points in each of the last six games and ranks among the league leaders in 3-point field goals made per game and 3-point field goal percentage.
Forward Danuel House, who was named the league's Freshman of the Year on Tuesday, ranks third on the team with 12.4 points per game and continues to climb in the Houston records book for freshmen. He has already set records from the free throw line and ranks third in scoring in Houston freshman single-season history.
Junior guard Tione Womack has become a steady presence for the Cougars during the second half of the season. In eight starts this season, the Baltimore native is averaging 4.0 assists with only 0.9 turnovers per game.
After getting hit in the mouth at Tulane on Saturday, Womack was forced to leave the game midway through the first half but returned early in the second half sporting a mouthpiece to stabilize the Houston offense.
ON THE AIR
Fans can hear Wednesday's game live on SportsTalk 790 with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Houston legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin at 5:45 p.m., Wednesday.
Fans can watch Wednesday's game live on the Conference USA Digital Network. Fans can hear the audio stream and watch the video stream live at UHCougars.com. Fans MUST sign up on the C-USA Digital Network to watch Wednesday's First-Round game. A subscription to Cougar All-Access does NOT provide accessibility to the C-USA Digital Network.
C-USA Digital Network combines streaming audio and video content from all 12 member institutions with exclusive Conference USA-produced content to offer the most online video coverage of Conference USA athletics anywhere in the world. C-USA Digital Network features live game broadcasts, exclusive behind-the-scenes video, game highlights, original programming and press conferences from 18 men's and women's sports across Conference USA, with additional coverage from conference postseason tournaments and events.
Fans can have access to all of this great content with a monthly, renewing subscription that's available for $14.95 each month. Fans looking for greater value can purchase an Annual renewing package for $119.95, for a total savings of $59.
Fans can follow live stats by clicking the GameTracker link or by clicking here.
Rice enters Wednesday's First Round game with an overall record of 5-25. The Owls finished the Conference USA season with a 1-15 record to rank 12th overall and receive the No. 11 seed for the C-USA Championship
The Owls are 0-11 in road games this season and 0-3 on neutral sites. Rice has lost each of its last 10 games and not won since a 79-69 decision against Houston in Tudor Fieldhouse on Jan. 30.
In their most recent action, the Owls dropped a 77-71 decision to Tulsa in Tudor Fieldhouse. Competing in his Senior Night, guard Tamir Jackson led all players with 30 points on 12-of-26 shooting and added seven rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers. Guard Julian DeBose added 17 points with five rebounds, while guard Austin Ramljak finished with 15 points off five 3-pointers.
This season, Jackson leads the team with 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and ranks second with 2.5 assists per game. DeBose stands second with 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Head coach Ben Braun is in his 36th year as a collegiate head coach and his fifth season at Rice. He has posted a 608-493 career record and a 66-104 mark with the Owls.
Braun, who is a 1975 graduate of Wisconsin, is 6-7 against the Cougars, including a 4-6 mark against as Rice's head coach. He previously served as head coach at California (1996-08), Eastern Michigan (1986- 96) and Siena Heights (1977-85).
With a First-Round win against Rice on Wednesday, Houston advances to the C-USA Championship Quarterfinals to face No. 3 seed UTEP at 2:30 p.m., Thursday.
The two teams split the regular-season series with each squad winning on its home court. It would be fifth time in the last six years Houston met UTEP met at the C-USA Championship.