Always Down To The Wire; North Texas, Rice Have Hoops Rivalry
Seven Of Last Eight Meetings With The Owls Have Come Down To The Last Possession
North Texas (8-11, 2-5 C-USA) vs. Rice (6-13, 3-4 C-USA)
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DENTON - It's official, North Texas and Rice have a basketball rivalry. Regardless of the coaching staffs, players on the court or which arena they play in, almost every matchup between the Mean Green and the Owls comes down to the wire.
In fact, the last eight matchups between Rice and North Texas dating back to 1995 have been decided by an average of 2.5 points per game - including seven games decided on the last possession, and two in overtime. North Texas has been fortunate to win six of those eight games.
In the 2006 matchup with the Owls, NT somehow fought off 38 points and 12 rebounds from future NBA First-Round Draft pick Morris Almond to beat Rice, 58-56, in Houston.
Another NBA Draft pick from Rice, Arsalan Kazemi, averaged 11.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the 2009 and 2010 matchups. Still, the Mean Green came out on top by a total of five points in that home-and-home series.
Last year the rivalry turned into a Conference-USA showdown. Rice took the regular season meeting by five points in Houston, but North Texas returned the favor with a 63-62 overtime win in the C-USA Tournament in El Paso.
Only 21 days will have passed since the last time these two teams met, and as usual, it came down to the wire in North Texas' 66-63 victory on Jan. 10. The Mean Green overcame an eight-point first-half deficit, and actually led by as much as 13 points with 6:41 remaining.
Rice charged back in the final minutes behind Marcus Jackson's game-high 22 points. The Owls actually had the game's final possession, but couldn't get a shot off. Jeremy Combs led NT with 18 points. NT out-scored Rice 34-12 in the paint, while the Owls countered with 12 3-pointers.
Jordan Williams scored 15 points to pass NT legend Calvin Watson for 12th on the program's all-time scoring charts - and Watson was in the stands to watch it happen. A Houston native, Watson delivered a passionate speech to the team in the locker room after the game, and congratulated Williams for passing him on the scoring list.