Feb. 18, 2011
For the second time in as many home games, Rice University will play host to the team atop the Conference USA standings as the Owls take on Memphis Saturday night in Tudor Fieldhouse. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Memphis heads into the CSS regionally-televised game riding a four game win streak. The Tigers are 20-6 overall and at 8-3 in conference play, have a half-game lead over second-place UTEP.
Rice will look to end a three-game losing streak which started with a home-court loss to then, conference leader UTEP (57-50) two weeks ago. In the past week, the Owls have lost back-to-back road games at UAB (74-68) and Marshall (72-61).
Earlier this week, Marshall went on a 13-0 run to break open a two-point game against Rice in the final three minutes.
Rice sophomore guard Tamir Jackson posted his third, 20-point game of the season, finishing with 21 points in the loss at Marshall. Jackson is currently averaging 13.3 points per game and is one of Conference USA's leaders in assists with 89 (3.6 per game).
Rice will look to return from a tough rebounding night at Marshall. For just the fourth time in the last 18 games, Rice was on the minus-side of a rebounding margin. The Thundering Herd outrebounded the Owls 20-6 in the second half and had a 36-24 advantage on the boards for the game.
The Owls' leading rebounder, Arsalan Kazemi, had just one rebound in the second half, finishing with nine boards and 16 points. Kazemi heads into Saturday's game against Memphis averaging 15.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
Despite Wednesday's game, Rice heads into the Memphis game with a +3.6 rebounding margin which ranks 63rd in the nation. Kazemi's 11.5 rebounds per game ranks fourth nationally. He has 15 double-doubles this season.
Memphis ranks as one of Conference USA's top scoring teams (75.0 ppg) but has a +0.5 rebounding margin. At 5.2 rebounds per game, freshman Tarik Black is the Tigers' leading rebounder.
Black is one of three freshmen expected to start for Memphis and two of the U of M's top players off the bench are also rookies.
Freshman guard Will Barton leads the Tigers with a 13.4 scoring average. Barton is the current Conference USA Freshman of the Week after averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in last week's wins over UCF and Southern Miss. Memphis freshmen have received the award a total of six times.
Behind junior Wesley Witherspoon's 11.1 points per game, the Tigers' next three top scorers are all freshmen. Joe Jackson is averaging 9.4 points per game, Black averages 9.0 points an outing and Antonio Barton averages 7.8 points an outing.
Memphis holds a 7-0 record against the Owls, including a 5-0 mark since Rice University joined Conference USA. Memphis defeated the Owls 80-68 last year in Tudor Fieldhouse.
Following Saturday's game, the Owls are on the road next Wednesday at SMU. Memphis plays host to Houston next week before a showdown with UTEP in El Paso next Saturday.