March 16, 2012
Rice University's basketball season continues Saturday in Houston as the Owls play host to Drake in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse and the game can be heard on 1560 The Game. The CIT will stream a video feed of the game at its web site, 2012cit.com.
Rice, 18-15, has advanced past the first round of a national postseason tournament for the first time 1993 and will play host to a postseason tournament game for the first time in program history.
Earlier this week Rice went on the road to notch a 68-63 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round of the CIT. Connor Frizzelle scored 18 points while Arsalan Kazemi snagged 12 rebounds and scored seven points in the victory over the Ragin' Cajuns.
Now the Owls turn their attention to a Drake team which tied for third in the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season standings. The Bulldogs are 18-15 on the year. They lead the MVC in three-point percentage defense (.305) and are third in steals (6.9). Over Drake's last 18 games, the team is allowing opponents to shoot just 41.2 percent from the field.
In the Bulldogs' CIT first-round game, junior forward Ben Simons scored 24 points, sinking four free throws in the final 30 seconds to lead Drake to a 70-64 win over North Dakota.
North Dakota made just two of its last four free throws, missed two of its final three shots and had a turnover in the final minutes after tying the game at 60-60 with 3:18 to play.
Drake's leading scorer is sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice. In the win over North Dakota, Rice broke the final tie with back-to-back jumpers. He finished with 19 points.
In Rice and Simons, Drake features two of the top scorers in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Rice was an MVC Second-Team selection who is averaging 16.6 points per game. The sophomore is also averaging 5.7 rebounds and leads the Bulldogs with 62 steals.
Simons is averaging 16.3 points per game. For the year, the 6-8 junior has knocked down 74 three-pointers and ranks 19th nationally in three-point shooting percentage at 42.5 (74-of-174).
With its win earlier in the week, Rice snapped a two-game losing streak. The Owls' final three losses were decided by a combined five points.
Kazemi's 10.4 rebounding average for the season ranks 14th nationally and his 17 double-doubles ranks 11th in the country. The junior has averaged a double-double all season and is scoring 12.2 points per game. He leads Conference USA with 66 steals.
Tamir Jackson is averaging 10.5 points per game and ranks second on the team with 94 assists. His reverse layin at Louisiana-Lafayette this week gave the Owls a seven-point advantage as he finished with 11 points on the night.
Look for Jackson to be joined in the backcourt by a pair of freshmen again on Saturday.
Point guard Dylan Ennis has set a Rice freshman record with 133 assists while Julian DeBose will likely get his second start this week. DeBose, who started for the first time since mid-December in the Owls' win at Louisiana-Lafayette, scored 10 points and had a career-high four steals in the Owls' win over the Ragin' Cajuns.
The winner of the Drake/Rice game will advance to play in the quarterfinals of the CIT against an opponent and at a site to be determined next week. All five rounds of the tournament will be played at campus sites. The championship game is slated for March 28th.
Below is a complete list of second-round games:
Saturday, March 17
Robert Morris (25-10) at Toledo (19-16)
Buffalo (20-10) at Oakland (18-15)
Georgia State (22-11) at Mercer (23-11)
Drake (18-15) at Rice (18-15)
Idaho (19-13) at Utah State (18-15)
Sunday, March 18
USC Upstate (21-12) at Old Dominion (21-13)
Manhattan (21-12) at Fairfield (20-12)
Weber State (25-6) at Loyola Marymount (20-12)