Owls Open GCI Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday

Nate Pollard and the Owls face Mercer on Thanksgiving night in Anchorage.
Nov. 26, 2014

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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - Rice University men's basketball opens the GCI Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday with an 8:30 p.m. CT game against Mercer. The game is the first of three in as many days for the Owls and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

Rice makes its first appearance in the Great Alaska Shootout this week, but it will be the program's second tournament in the state. The Owls claimed the 2003 BP Top of the World Classic title in Fairbanks with wins over Idaho State, St. Mary's (Calif.) and Washington State on consecutive days.

In their last action, the Owls (1-2) fell in a tight contest with William & Mary, 69-65, on Saturday. Senior Seth Gearhart tallied 14 points, six steals and five rebounds in the contest, and sparked the team's late run. Rice score 12-straight points in the final two minutes to pull within one possession of the Tribe. Bishop Mency scored three points during the run while Dan Peera added six of his career-high eight points over the stretch as well. Mency was then named Conference USA Freshman of the Week for his 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games.

Rice vs. Mercer
• Rice and Mercer have never met in basketball.
• Rice is 8-1 against current members of the Southern Conference (which Mercer joined this year).
• The Owls' last meeting with a SoCon team was a 77-65 home win against Furman in 2009.

Rice vs. Other Tournament Competition
The Owls are 7-10 against the other six potential opponents at the GCI Great Alaska Shootout, with nine of the 17 games coming against former WAC rival Colorado State (4-5 record). Rice has never faced host Alaska Anchorage.

Colorado State
• Rice has won four of its nine games against Colorado State.
• The two teams' last meeting was in Spokane at the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off, with the Owls claiming a 70-61 victory.

Missouri State
• Rice's only previous meeting with Missouri State was a 105-82 loss in Springfield in the 2005 NIT.

• Rice has a 2-2 record against Pacific.
• Rice won the last meeting 88-79 at the 1991 Stanford/Apple Invitational in Palo Alto.

UC Santa Barbara
• Rice is 0-2 all-time against UC Santa Barbara, with the two teams' last meeting in 1973.

Washington State
• Rice has played Washington State once, a 64-49 win at the 2003 BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Up Next
• Rice faces either UC Santa Barbara or Washington State on Friday. If the game takes place in the winner's bracket, it will tip off at 11 p.m. CT be broadcast by CBS Sports Network on tape delay at 1 a.m. CT Saturday morning. The consolation bracket game tips off at 5 p.m. CT and will not be televised.
• The Owls face Alaska Anchorage, Colorado State, Missouri State or Pacific on Saturday at 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. CT. The championship game (10:30 p.m. CT) and third-place game (8 p.m. CT) will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

More on the Shootout
• The event has run annually since 1978, when NC State topped Louisville for the inaugural title.
• The 2014 edition is the first to be held at the new 5,000-seat Alaska Airlines Center on the Alaska Anchorage campus.
• 26 NCAA champions have taken part in the Shootout. The defending national champion has taken part in the tournament five times, most recently Kentucky in 1996. North Carolina State was the first, starting the defense of its 1983 title in Anchorage. Two years later, Villanova played in the 1985 Shootout after winning a national title earlier that spring. Louisville (1986) and Kansas (1988) have also played in the Shootout after winning national titles.
• Harvard won the 2013 title with a 71-50 victory over TCU in the championship game. Current C-USA member Charlotte won in 2012.





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