Dec. 14, 2012
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HOUSTON - Rice University men's basketball reaches the midway point of its five-game homestand as Hartford visits Tudor Fieldhouse in the first-ever meeting between the programs. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Rice shot a season-high 50 percent from the field on Wednesday, but ran into a red-hot LIU Brooklyn team that shot an incredible 64.8 percent from the floor to claim a 97-70 victory. In the first game after a long break for final exams, senior Tamir Jackson poured in a season-high 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
Sophomore Julian DeBose also had a strong night scoring as he tallied a career best with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also led the Owls with seven rebounds. Rice passed out a season-high 19 assists and matched a season low with only seven turnovers. Austin Ramljak's six assists were the most by a Rice player this season.
Scouting the Hawks
Hartford (5-5) wraps up a four-game, four-state road trip on Saturday at Rice. On the current road swing, the Hawks fell 71-63 at Arizona State before taking down Fairleigh Dickinson, 69-59.
On Wednesday, the team dropped a 75-59 decision at Niagara, despite 14 points and seven rebounds from Mark Nwakamma. He leads the team with 12.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while Yolonzo Moore also averages double-figure points, with 11.2 per game.
The Hawks force 15.8 turnovers per game and collect 7.6 steals. Hartford has forced 22 turnovers in each of its last two games.
The squad features five players from Texas, including Houston area natives Evan Cooper (Houston/The Woodlands College Park) and Wes Cole (The Woodlands/The Woodlands).
Saturday marks the first meeting between the teams. The contest is the only scheduled regular season meeting between teams from Conference USA and the America East conference.
Rice is 2-0 against current America East teams, including a win against Maine in 1988 and another over New Hampshire in 1989. Since Rice joined Conference USA in 2005-06, America East teams have won eight-straight games against C-USA opposition.
Noting the Owls
Rice converts an average of 6.8 three-pointers per game, ranking the team fourth in Conference USA.
Two Owls rank in the league's top eight in threes made per game, including Ramljak's seventh-place mark of 2.13 and Jackson's 2.0 treys per game average, ranking eighth.
Rice's 19 assists against LIU Brooklyn were a season high and came close to last season's top output of 21. Ramljak passed out six assists, the most by any Owl this season.
The plus-12 margin in assists-to-turnovers (19-7) was the best of the season, and the highest since Rice posted matching numbers in a 79-71 win at Houston last season (Feb. 8).
Jackson is averaging 20.5 points per game over the last four contests, including a season-high 26 points against LIU Brooklyn on Wednesday night. He has recorded all three of Rice's 20-point games this season. It is the best stretch of his career in terms of scoring average, narrowly beating a Feb. 2011 run, where he averaged 20.25 points over a four-game stretch.
In addition to Rice's incoming class of six players, the Owls add Elliot Franshaw beginning on Saturday against Hartford. The Houston native graduated from Strake Jesuit in 2011 before enrolling at Rice. He became eligible to join the roster on Thursday, following the conclusion of the fall semester exam period.
Franshaw is a 6-7, 210-pound forward has freshman eligibility and will instantly add depth to Rice post position. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he is majoring in history and English and is a member of Sid Richardson College.
Franshaw earned three letters for head coach LeRoi Wayne Jones in high school and helped lead the Crusaders to a 37-1 record as a junior.
Rice's homestand continues when the Owls host Chicago State on Wednesday, Dec. 19. The Cougars open a long seven-game road trip on Sunday at Oregon State. Following the game at Rice, Chicago State remains in town to face Houston three days later.
Rice closes out the five-game homestand against TCU on Dec. 22 before taking a week to celebrate the holidays.