Jan. 16, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas - After a back-and-forth first half, Memphis broke open a tight game to claim a 77-51 win over Rice University men's basketball on Wednesday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
A hard-fought first half saw seven lead changes as the Owls (3-13, 0-3 C-USA) forced eight turnovers and knocked down 7-of-8 free throws to frustrate the large Tiger team. The visitors owned a 31-24 lead at the intermission after shooting 42.9 percent from the field, compared to the Owls' 30.4 clip.
Julian DeBose and Max Guercy combined for Rice's first nine points of the second half and cut the lead to five, but Memphis (13-3, 3-0) finally found its range from downtown to stem the Rice run and push its advantage to double figures for the first time in the game with back-to-back three-pointers.
From there, the Owls tried to climb back against the Tigers' full-court pressure, but the home team's shooting percentage increased only marginally in the half as Memphis eventually pulled away in the latter stages of the game.
On the night, Rice shot 31.3 percent from the field but sank 8-of-18 three-point attempts. The Owls were also a solid 13-of-16 at the foul line. Memphis forced 13 turnovers for 21 points, while the Owls swiped seven steals and caused 15 Tiger miscues.
Following the loss, head coach Ben Braun reflected, "Our team battled pretty hard in the first half. Even though Memphis separated itself a little bit down the stretch, we played tough. I thought the two main things that made a difference were when they went inside and made a concerted effort to get to the basket, and then it also seemed like every one of our turnovers led to a basket for them."
Austin Ramljak led the Owls with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 4-of-6 three-pointers. Making his second-straight start, the junior chipped in a pair of steals and an assist as well. It was the third time in the last five games that he tallied 14 points.
Guercy also reached double figures with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting with a pair of treys. He hauled in four of Rice's 20 rebounds and dished out two of the team's six assists.
After scoring 20 points to lead Rice to a win the last time Memphis visited Houston, the visitors made a concerted effort to keep Tamir Jackson off the scoreboard. Rice's lone senior notched eight points, marking just the second time in 16 games on the season he has scored fewer than 10. He hauled in three boards and passed out two assists.
For Memphis, Joe Jackson tallied a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while four other Tigers scored in double figures as well. The team sank 55.8 percent of its shot attempts, including 15-of-22 in the second half.
Rice steps out of conference play on Saturday as New Orleans visits Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. before the Owls head out on the road for two games next week.