March 2, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas - Tamir Jackson continued his recent scoring surge as the senior led Rice with 20 points in a 67-56 setback to UTEP on Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse. The senior has topped the 20-point mark three times in his last four outings, with a 19-point performance mixed in.
After five early lead changes, the Owls (5-23, 1-13) fell behind 34-24 at the half against the balanced and defensive-minded Miners (16-12, 9-5). UTEP then continued its momentum to increase the advantage to as many as 24 points in the second half before Rice rallied back down the stretch and ended the game on a 19-6 run.
Following the game, head coach Ben Braun noted, "There's no quit in our team. The guys have been battling all year, no matter what - I admire their spirit. I thought they played outstanding in the second half. Our defense really picked up and we almost cut it to 10 points late in the game. We allowed them to make five three-pointers in the first half but just one in the second."
Max Guercy scored nine points in the opening half with three three-pointers and finished the game with 11 points, a season-high six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Julian DeBose came on strong after the intermission, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half. The sophomore added three rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Owls played with a short bench once again, as guard Keith Washington missed his second-straight contest with a wrist injury. Nevertheless, numerous players stepped up to fill the void, as all eight Rice players saw at least 10 minutes of action.
Braun added, "Our bench gave every bit of hustle and desire they had and really set the tone. They had a great attitude and came in and really played hard for us."
Bahrom Firozgary came off the bench to tally three points and a pair of rebounds, while Elliot Franshaw also scored three points to accompany a blocked shot. Dan Peera hauled in two rebounds and grabbed a steal down the stretch as the Owls made their run.
Rice scored 10 points off of 11 UTEP turnovers while turning the ball over just eight times in the game. The Owls converted 36.5 percent of their shot attempts and 7-of-20 three-pointers. UTEP shot better than 50 percent in the first half but cooled off to 47.2 percent in the game, including a 6-of-20 mark from downtown.
Five of UTEP's 10 active players scored at least eight points in the game, with three Miners scoring 10 each. Cedrick Lang came off the bench to lead the visitors with 11 rebounds in just 18 minutes. He scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting as well. UTEP held a 42-26 advantage in rebounds after Rice held a 30-27 edge on the glass in the season's first meeting.
Rice travels a short distance on Wednesday to take on Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. as the Owls seek a season sweep.