BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -After tying for seventh in the league standings, Rice University men's basketball begins its Conference USA Championship quest with an opening round contest against eight-seed North Texas on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. CT at Legacy Arena at the BJCC. The first round and quarterfinal games will be televised on American Sports Network.
North Texas Rallies Past Men's Basketball
A season-high 15 three-pointers were not enough for Rice University men's basketball to hold off North Texas in a 75-65 setback on Saturday evening at The Super Pit. The Owls knocked down 12 treys in the opening 20 minutes but cooled off to shoot just 21 percent from the field in the second half as the Mean Green rallied for the win.
The winner advances to face top-seeded Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinal round on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on ASN. The semifinals are set for Friday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The championship game tips off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday on Fox Sports 1.
Wednesday's meeting with North Texas is both a rematch from last season's tournament but also the third meeting between the in-state foes this year. Most recently, the Owls knocked down 15 three-pointers - including 12 in the first half - in a 75-65 setback in Denton. The previous eight meetings between the teams had been decided by five points or less.
Senior Seth Gearhart leads the Owls (11-19, 8-10) into the tournament after being named second team All-Conference USA earlier this week. He was previously named to his second C-USA All-Academic Team. The forward averages 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Junior Max Guercy has also come on strong late in the season as he ranks third in the conference with 4.57 assists per contest to accompany 9.9 points and 1.57 steals. Sophomore Marcus Jackson joined Gearhart on the league's academic team. He notched 14.2 points per game in the regular season. His 79 three-pointers rank third in the league and fifth on Rice's single-season list.
Scouting the Mean Green (14-16, 8-10)
North Texas finished the regular season on a three-game skid to tie with Rice for seventh place in C-USA.
On the season, the Mean Green posted an 11-6 home record and a 3-10 mark on the road. Wednesday's game will be its first neutral-site contest of the season.
Third-team all-league selection Jordan Williams leads the squad with 14.9 points per game along with 63 assists and 44 steals.
In its regular season finale, NT lost to UTSA, 69-68, in San Antonio on Saturday. Maurice Aniefiok tallied 20 points and six boards in the game, with a 5-of-9 mark from downtown.