GAME NOTES: For one of their final home games of the 2011-12 campaign, the Rice Owls are set to welcome the UCF Knights to Tudor Fieldhouse tonight for a Conference USA showdown.
Rice, which closes out the regular season on March 3 with a home date against in-state rival Houston, is coming off a 69-50 loss to Tulsa over the weekend. The defeat snapped a two-game win streak by the Owls and now the team is just 6-6 in conference play as a result.
As for the Knights, they are a bit closer to the top of the C-USA standings with eight wins against four losses. With this and three more games remaining in the regular season there's still a chance for UCF to take over first place in the standings, but there are several different scenarios in play for that to happen. On Saturday UCF posted a 64-55 win over East Carolina at home, the squad's fourth victory in the last five outings.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Knights own an 8-4 edge over Rice.
The defense for UCF held the Pirates to a mere 38.3 percent shooting from the floor over the weekend, including 4-of-24 behind the three-point line, as the hosts picked up the nine-point victory. Keith Clanton scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Knights, followed by A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Playing more than 36 minutes per game, Jordan remains the leading scorer for the Knights with his 15.1 ppg, but following close behind is Clanton with 15.0 ppg. Clanton, who leads the team with 8.7 rpg and has fouled out of three meetings, could easily be the leading scorer for the group if not for his mere 59.7 percent accuracy at the free- throw line.
The Owls kept it close for the first 20 minutes of action against Tulsa at the Reynolds Center on Saturday, but then the Rice offense went cold in the second half and made just seven total field goals, en route to the 19-point loss. Connor Frizzelle checked in with 11 points to lead the Rice offense, followed by Omar Oraby with 10 points as he knocked down 5-of-6 shots from the floor. Arsalan Kazemi came off the bench for a chance and missed all five of his field goal tries, but still contributed with six rebounds. Kazemi remains the overall scoring leader for the program with his 12.1 ppg, thanks to his 59.1 percent shooting from the floor which obviously took a slight hit over the weekend. Tamir Jackson adds another 11.1 ppg to the offense for the Owls.
UCF has been awful on the road this season, but if Kazemi has another sub par game for the Owls then perhaps the Knights stand a chance in the outing.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 68, Rice 59
02/22 10:35:51 ET
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