Dec. 29, 2010
HOUSTON - Led by sophomore forward Arsalan Kazemi's 19 points and career-high 17 rebounds, the Rice fended off a fierce last-minute charge by LSU, to defeat the Tigers 74-68 in a nationally televised game at Tudor Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
At 7-6, the win puts the Owls just a win away from their total victories from last season.
While Rice led most of the game, things suddenly tightened when LSU guard Andre Stringer made three free throws after being fouled while shooting from behind the arc then hit another three-pointer to bring the Tigers to within three points, 68-65 with 29 seconds to go.
But the Owls countered with clutch free throws from Connor Frizzelle who converted four straight to put the Owls up 72-68. Bryan Beasley then helped seal the win when he stole the ball from Stringer and was fouled with nine seconds to play. His two shots at the line provided the final margin of victory.
Rice converted nine of 10 free throws in the final minute of the game.
Kazemi, named Conference USA's Player of the Week on Monday for his performance at the 2010 Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, told reporters the team felt well prepared.
"We basically knew every detail we would face," he said. "Nothing they did surprised us. Our scouting was excellent."
Kazemi registered his fourth straight double-double and has nine for the season.
Frizzelle had a streak of 28 straight free throws that dated back to the first game of the season come to an end before making his final four. He finished with 13 points.
Owls' sophomore guard Tamir Jackson celebrated his 20th birthday Wednesday night by contributing 16 points, four assists and a steal.
Stringer finished with 19 points to lead the Tigers. He was 4-for-8 from three-point range.
As a team, LSU converted 12-of-28 three-pointers and the long ball got the Tigers back in the game as Rice scored 13 straight points to build an early double-digit lead.
LSU was 8-for-14 from three-point range in the first half and trailed the Owls 31-26 at the break. Inside the arc, the Tigers were just 1-for-12 and 0-for-5 from the free throw line in the first period.
The Tigers' Matt Derenbecker made a trio of three-pointers and finished with 17 points off the bench while Ralston Turner had four treys and scored 14.
Rice and LSU maintained a semi-regular rivalry through the mid-1960s, although the schools hadn't met in three decades before they renewed acquaintances last year when the Tigers posted a 65-61 win in Baton Rouge. The Owls now have a 25-17 edge in the series.
The Owls play host to TCU Sunday afternoon at Tudor before opening Conference USA play next week.