March 10, 2010
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TULSA, Okla. - From the start of its first-round game of the GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship, Rice came out on fire, knocking down six, first-half three-pointers and holding tournament host Tulsa to just 28 percent shooting in the period. The Owls led 41-26 at halftime but could not answer a late Golden Hurricane rally as TU survived an upset bid to advance at the league tournament with a 73-62 win Wednesday at the BOK Center.
Tulsa, 22-10, will play No. 4 seed Marshall Thursday at 6:30. With the loss, the Owls' season ends with an 8-23 record.
From the opening tip, Rice came out with determination. Tulsa's second field goal attempt was blocked by Suleiman Braimoh. The Owls would jump out to an 8-0 lead as Lucas Kuipers drained a three, hit a mid-range jumper and Connor Frizzelle also nailed a shot from outside the arc.
Rice never trailed in the opening period and would build a 15-point lead by halftime, 41-26.
"I was proud of our effort. I was proud of our mindset. I was proud of our effort to compete," said Rice head coach Ben Braun. Our team competed and I appreciated the effort."
"I think we gave Rice confidence as the half went along and they obviously built their lead as the (first) half wore on," said Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik. "We just didn't start well and it consequently lasted about 20 minutes."
A three-pointer by Connor Frizzelle sparked a 16-2 Rice run to end the half.
Frizzelle knocked down four, three-pointers in the first half. He scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first period. His trey at the 4:12 mark put the Owls up 33-24.
Arsalan Kazemi's two free throws following a defensive rebound with 3:19 to play in the half gave Rice a double-digit lead. Following a steal by Tamir Jackson, A.J. Holland fed Suleiman Braimoh for a layup and Jackson later drilled a jumper to put the Owls up by 15.
Braimoh scored 12 points and had seven rebounds. Kazemi finished with eight points and a game-high, 12 rebounds. Jackson had 13 points and with two steals raised his season total to 53, ninth-most in a season at Rice.
The Golden Hurricane would storm back to start the second half and within the first 1:30 of the period had the lead back down to single figures.
Bishop Wheatley had a layup and Ben Uzoh fed Jerome Jordan for a dunk in which he was fouled in the process. Jordan made the ensuing free throw and Jordan Hurtt later added a three-point play to cut the Rice lead to 43-34.
"In the second half, Tulsa came out and made shots and got to the foul line," Braun said. They did the things they needed to do to impact the game."
Rice would up the lead back to as many as 11 points with 12:22 to play on a pair of Jackson free throws to give the Owls a 51-40 lead.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Uzoh and freshman Donte Medder gave TU its first lead 58-57 with 6:02 to play.
After two free throws by Kazemi put the Owls back in the lead, Hurtt charged the lane for a dunk over Braimoh who tried to draw a foul. Instead, Braimoh was whistled for his fifth personal foul with 5:28 to play. Hurtt would miss the ensuing free throw but the Golden Hurricane never again relinquished its lead, scoring 10 straight points to go up 68-59 with 1:58 to play.
Hurtt scored 17 points to pace Tulsa. Jordan had 16 points and eight rebounds while Uzoh finished with 15 points and seven assists.
Rice shot 42 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range (7-of-15). The Owls outrebounded the Golden Hurricane 41-34.