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Rice Hammers North Texas 82-54

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Mike Rhoades had his Owls ready for the first round, but can they make things weird in the quarterfinal?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The ninth seeded Rice Owls came out firing on offense, and finished with superior team defense to dispatch ninth seed North Texas 82-54 in the final first round game of the C-USA Tournament.

Rice started 5/10 from three, with Seth Gearhart drilling a pair of treys and scoring eight points in the first half as the Owls would race out to an early 21-10 lead after the under 12 timeout.

Jeremy Combs and North Texas would shake off the slow start and out score Rice 11-5 from 8:43 mark of the first half until Colin Voss hooked one in from the paint, cutting the Rice lead to 29-26 with 4:08 left in the first stanza.

That would be the last field goal the Mean Green would see go down the rest of the half as the Owls went ahead 38-30 during the field goal drought that went into the halftime break and beyond.

Via a tough to crack Rice zone, the drought would bleed into the first six minutes of the second half until DeAndre Harris hit a three from the wing at the 14:31 mark.

That would stop a 18-4 Rice run since North Texas had pulled within three late in the second half.

The Owls continued to throw knock-out blows on each end of the floor, taking a 54-36 lead into the under 12 timeout with 10:40 left in the game, and matching a season high with the 82 points.

Marcus Jackson scored a game and first round high 28 points, Gearhart finished with 10 points, and nine rebounds.

Max Guercy provided all-conference type point guard play with 10 points, seven assists, and no turnovers, Van Green added 10 points, and six rebounds off the bench for Rice.

The Owls held North Texas to a rim clanking 28 percent outing from the floor, and also had seven players haul in four or more rebounds owning the advantage on the glass 46-33.

North Texas' Jordan Williams was frustrated into a 1/11 shooting night, the Mean Green finished 4/21 from the behind the three point line, Jeremy Combs posted a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the season ending loss.

Next up for the scary looking Owls is a quarterfinal bout with the regular season champ and number one seed Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the same 7:30 Mountain Time-slot on Thursday night.

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