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Owls Cougars Rivalry Never Gets Old

By NATE GRIFFIN, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: James Nielsen Houston Chronicle)

(credit: James Nielsen Houston Chronicle)

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HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Rice Head Coach Ben Braun and the Owls swept the cross-town series last season, 79-71 and 72-57. But, this is a new season for both. The Owls are 13-11 overall, 4-5 in Conference USA. The Cougars are 11-11 overall, 3-6 in the conference and memories of those two losses to Rice from last season linger, says Houston Head Coach, James Dickey.

(Both are) “Two different teams obviously,” says Dickey. “But, I hope our guys remember that it wasn’t a pleasant experience last year and we need to be ready to go.”

Dickey’s Cougars are 10-4 at Hofheinz Pavilion while the Owls are 4-4 on the road. But this game is considered a rivalry and Rice Head Basketball Coach Ben Braun knows that last season’s wins over the Cougars were just that – so last season.

“Last year is irrelevant to this year, I can tell you that,” says Braun. I’m sure both teams don’t think much about last year, at least we don’t. That was last year’s series and now we’re in a new series, (and a) new year.”

“I’ve got a lot of respect for their team and their ability. They’re athletic – they’ll play hard. James does a good job with the team and we know we’re going to be in for a battle at their place.”

HOW DO OWLS STACK UP AGAINST COUGARS

Both teams have been off since Sunday so rest should not be an issue. Winning the game could come down to hunger and pride as both lost on Saturday, the Owls 82-68 at East Carolina and the Cougars, 75-54 at Tulane.

The Owls average 71.1 ppg and 6’7” junior forward Arsalan Kazemi leads the way in scoring and rebounding for the Owls with 12.8 points per game and 11 boards. He is the 8th best rebounder in college basketball. Dickey has big respect for the Owls, the 4th best rebounding team in the conference.

“They’re an outstanding rebounding basketball team,” says Dickey. “Beat us twice last year. We had a chance over there and got into overtime and they really wore us out in overtime and played much better than we did here at home. So, I hope our guys are motivated and ready to go.”

Speaking of motivated, junior off-guard Tamir Jackson follows Kazemi with 11.1 points per game. Those are the only two Owls who average double figure scoring, Jackson a bit of a surprise with limited play as of late, although he played 30 minutes and scored 17 points against East Carolina.

In fact, even though it was during a loss, Braun thought that Jackson played extremely well against the Pirates.

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