Nov. 24, 2012
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Senior Tamir Jackson scored a season-high 25 points to lead Rice University men’s basketball on Friday night, but Drake prevailed in the end with a 77-66 win in the second round of the DirecTV Classic.
Jackson quickly recovered from a rare off night on Thursday as the guard tallied 11 points in the first half, including a three-point play on an acrobatic fast break layup on Rice’s last possession before halftime. He finished with a 9-for-17 shooting mark on the night, including three three-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds. Jackson also chipped in two assists and a steal.
In a back-and-forth first half, the lead changed hands four times with each team leading by at least six points at one point. Drake (2-2) held a 34-30 advantage at the intermission, and extended its lead to eight points before Rice (1-4) rallied back.
Keith Washington found Ross Wilson cutting to the basket for an easy layup to complete the Owl rally and take the first lead of the second half, at 49-48 with 14 minutes remaining. Rice then increased its advantage to four points less than a minute later on an Austin Ramljak trey.
The Bulldogs responded by reclaiming a lead and pushing it to 10 points with six minutes on the clock as Rice battled foul trouble. A late Rice comeback was not to be as Drake knocked down 18-of-26 free throws - including 12-of-17 in the second half – to maintain its poise down the stretch.
Head coach Ben Braun saw the positive side of the outing, noting “I told our guys at the end of the game I admired how they played. We didn't come out with the win but we did battle to the end. I thought Tamir fought real well and we fought for every possession.”
Julian DeBose scored 12 points and nearly converted a double-double with a career-best nine rebounds in the game. The sophomore added a pair of assists as well.
Playing near their hometowns, Ramljak and Max Guercy scored nine points each and combined for four three-pointers as Rice matched its season high with nine long-balls. Guercy added two steals and an assist while Ramljak grabbed three rebounds.
Washington had a solid outing with four assists and no turnovers to accompany four points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Wilson finished with two points and a rebound in 16 minutes while recovering from an illness.
Jordan Clarke was the story of the night for Drake, as the big man tallied 15 points and a tournament-record 18 rebounds. He dished out four assists and swatted two blocks to lead his team. Clarke entered the game shooting just 36.8 percent from the free throw line but sank 8-of-13 attempts. The senior knew it was his night when he banked in a three-point attempt as the shot clock expired late in the second half.
Rice bounced back nicely from Thursday’s offensive struggle, as the Owls shot 41.5 percent from the floor, 9-of-24 from downtown and a stellar 13-of-14 (92.9 percent) at the foul line. The team also committed a season-low eight turnovers and converted 20 points in the paint, up from four against the large Georgia Tech defense one night earlier.
With the loss, Rice will close out the tournament on Sunday against Drexel. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT and the game will be available on ESPN3.com. Drake will face Xavier in its tournament finale.