Dec. 21, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas – Rice University men’s basketball and crosstown rival Houston played yet another close contest in the teams’ recent history of nail-biters with the Cougars claiming a narrow 54-52 victory in the Dickies Shootout at Toyota Center.
The Owls jumped out to an early 10-point lead and then battled back from nine down in the second half in a contest that featured seven lead changes. Rice held a 46-45 lead on a Sean Obi layup with three minutes to play, but the Cougars scored the game’s next six points to claim the advantage for good.
Austin Ramljak knocked down two three-pointers in the final minute, but UH held on for the win. Ramljak led the Owls (5-6) with 15 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting. The senior showed off his range, knocking down several shots from beyond even the NBA arc. He added four rebounds in 37 minutes.
Obi added nine points, seven rebounds and a block before fouling out. Seth Gearhart matched him with nine points and paced Rice with nine rebounds. He added two of the Owl’s nine assists as well.
The Owls shot just 30.5 percent from the field but knocked down 10-of-26 three-pointers in the game. Houston connected on 44.2 percent of its shots and 2-of-7 three-pointers. UH knocked down 14-of-28 free throws while the Owls made six of their 10 foul shots.
For a second-straight game, Rice won the battle on the boards with a 40-36 rebounding advantage. The Owls limited Houston to just four offensive rebounds while pulling down 12 of their own for eight second-chance points.
TaShawn Thomas led the Cougars with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Morris chipped in 10 points of his own.
On the strength of three early three-pointers from Ramljak, Rice opened a 10-point lead in the first half. The Cougars regrouped and closed the gap with seven minutes remaining before the half, at 20-20. Houston then took a 29-27 advantage into the intermission.
Rice enjoys a week off for the holidays before returning to action on Dec. 30 at Texas in the team’s final road non-conference action of the year. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the game will be broadcast nationally on the Longhorn Network.