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Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rice defeats Texas A&M, 65-58

December 22, 2011

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— Rice managed a first in 15 years on Thursday night against Texas A&M -- the Owls defeated the Aggies.

Capitalizing on a 10-0 run at the end of the first half, Rice captured a 65-58 victory at Reed Arena.

Tamir Jackson led the Owls (8-4) with 13 points while Ahmad Ibrahim and Lucas Kuipers followed with 12 each. David Loubeau led the Aggies (8-3) with 14 points.

Rice's Arsalan Kazemi grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, and the Owls held a 37-28 rebounding advantage.

"This was our first game that we went after every loose ball," said Kazemi, who added 10 points.

Rice, in snapping Texas A&M's 67-game home nonconference winning streak, shot 47.7 percent (21 of 44) from the floor, while holding the Aggies to 39 percent (23 of 59). The Owls also outscored the Aggies 16-4 on the fast break.

"They were playing harder than us," Loubeau said. "They were getting all of the loose balls."

The Owls won in College Station for the first time since 1995 and defeated the Aggies for the first time since 1996, in the last season of the Southwest Conference. The programs had played only three times since as nonconference foes prior to Thursday, all Texas A&M victories.

"Our guys are a pretty good group when they get a challenge," Rice coach Ben Braun said. "Billy Kennedy's (Texas A&M coach) teams are always going to play hard, and for us to play maybe harder? That's a pretty big statement."

The Owls made it to the free-throw line nearly twice as much as the Aggies, as well. Rice made 17 of 23 from the line, while Texas A&M sank 9-of-12.

Texas A&M forward Kourtney Roberson left the game with 13:22 remaining in the first half with a left ankle injury. Kennedy said afterward that Roberson appears to have a fracture in the ankle and likely will be out four to six weeks.

Texas A&M, which dropped out of the top 25 this week, has lost two consecutive games following a six-game winning streak, while Rice snapped a two-game losing streak.

"When we needed a big rebound or a loose ball we didn't make the play that we needed to make," Kennedy said of the Aggies' overall effort. "On the defensive end, we have to be able to make some of those plays, and offensively it seems like we've got some guys pressing. Our chemistry is not right."

The teams played even over the second half at 32 points each, but Texas A&M was never able to tighten Rice's lead to less than five points. The Aggies break for Christmas before playing host to Arkansas Tech on Dec. 29. The Owls don't play again until Dec. 28, when they play host to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

"We just wanted to get this win before Christmas break," a smiling Kazemi said, "so we can enjoy it."

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