Feb. 27, 2013
DALLAS, Texas – Rice University men’s basketball trailed by as many as 16 points before making a valiant comeback in the second half at SMU. The Owls came up just short in the end, however, as the Mustangs held on for a 67-55 win at Moody Coliseum in the 197th meeting between the teams.
Rice outscored the home team by three points in the second half and forced 17 turnovers on the night, but SMU sank 17-of-23 free throws after halftime to keep the Owls (5-22, 1-12) at bay. Rice pulled within six points on three occasions in the final five minutes but was unable to get over the hump down the stretch.
Head coach Ben Braun commented, “We really challenged our players at halftime to come out and be aggressive. We wanted to be the aggressor in the second half. I couldn’t be prouder in the second half. I thought our team came out and played one of the better halves we’ve played all year. We were the more aggressive team.”
Reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Week Max Guercy scored 13 of his 16 points after the intermission as foul trouble kept the guard on the bench for all but eight minutes in the opening frame. He was 4-of-9 from the field on the night with a pair of three-pointers and success on 6-of-7 free throws. He added four assists and four steals to pace the visitors.
Tamir Jackson put back a layup on Guercy’s lone miss at the foul line at a crucial juncture to cut the Rice deficit to just 61-55 with 1:35 remaining in regulation. The senior finished with a game-high 20 points to accompany seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Jackson scored 12 of Rice’s 20 first-half points, including a pair of three-pointers, and hauled in seven of the Owls’ 10 rebounds. Rice shot just 8-of-27 from the field in the opening period, compared to 14-of-22 for the Mustangs (14-14, 4-9). Rice added 13 rebounds in the second half and owned a 7-5 advantage on second-chance points.
SMU shot 56.8 percent in the game and knocked down 4-of-9 three-pointers. Shawn Williams led three Mustangs in double figures with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Cannen Cunningham added 13 points and hauled in 13 of SMU’s 37 rebounds.
The Owls sank 32.8 percent of their field goal attempts and 9-of-30 three-pointers. The Owls finished with 12 assists on 19 made baskets. Austin Ramljak sank three treys in the second half to account for his nine points. Julian DeBose chipped in seven points, five boards and a pair of assists while playing all 40 minutes.
The short-handed Owls dressed out just eight players in the game as Keith Washington missed his first action of the season with a wrist injury. Both Bahrom Firozgary and Ross Wilson fouled out late in the contest, leaving Braun with just six available players for the game’s conclusion.
Rice returns home to host UTEP on Saturday in a 1 p.m. contest at Tudor Fieldhouse.