UAB, Houston, Tulane nab Conference USA men's tournament first-round wins
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, March 14, 2013
3/14/13 at 6:28 AM
Get complete coverage of the C-USA Tournament.
Three Conference USA Tournament first-round games were played on Wednesday at the BOK Center, and all three were close.
UAB defeated SMU by one point, Houston beat Rice by five and, in the late game, eighth-seeded Tulane edged ninth-seeded Marshall 66-64.
The Green Wave rallied from a second-half deficit of 13 points. Tulane scored the go-ahead points with 6.9 seconds left, when Ricky Tarrant banked in a straightaway 3-pointer from 25 feet out. The ball cleared Tarrant's fingertips as the shot clock was about to expire.
Marshall's Elijah Pittman misfired on a 3-point attempt, and the Green Wave advanced to a Thursday quarterfinal meeting with top-seeded Memphis.
Tarrant scored 21 points against Marshall, while Green Wave forward Josh Davis totaled 18 points and 12 rebounds. For Marshall (13-19), DeAndre Kane scored 22 points.
UAB 53, SMU 52: The 1987-88 college basketball season ended with coach Larry Brown's Kansas Jayhawks capturing the national title. Brown returned to college basketball this season, as the head man at SMU, but his postseason was limited to one game.
SMU's Nick Russell drove into the lane, but his shot was blocked as time expired and UAB held on for the win With a 15-17 record, the 10th-seeded Mustangs are finished.
"It's not where we want to be or where we intend to be," Brown said. "We just have to learn from this and move on and get better. Effort and quality of kid - this was a good group. But I don't think any of us were happy with the results."
SMU shot just 29 percent overall from the field. Russell scored eight points, but was 1-of-10 on shots from the field. For seventh-seeded UAB, Jordan Swing totaled 17 points and nine rebounds. He converted on the game-winning shot with 9.1 seconds left.
"It was not the prettiest game in the world and wasn't the prettiest game we've played all year," Blazers coach Jerod Haase said. "But we made enough plays down the stretch - enough hustle plays and enough team plays - to get it done."
At noon Thursday, UAB is matched with second-seeded Southern Miss. During the regular season, Southern Miss twice defeated the Blazers.
Houston 72, Rice 67: With 2:34 left in the first half, Jherrod Stiggers scored to give sixth-seeded Houston an 18-point lead over 11th-seeded Rice.
Having entered with records of 5-25 overall and 1-15 in C-USA play, the Owls have endured a brutally tough season. But instead of quitting when their deficit reached the 18-point mark, they responded with a spirited comeback against their crosstown rivals.
Driven by Tamir Jackson, who finished with 30 points, Rice rallied to take a two-point lead with 2 1/2 minutes left to play, but the Cougars recovered for the victory.
TaShawn Thomas scored 16 points and freshman Danuel House had 14 for the Cougars, who advance to a quarterfinal clash with third-seeded UTEP.
During the second half, Rice committed only two turnovers while shooting 44 percent from the field.
"I really want to take this time to express my appreciation for our players and their effort," Rice coach Ben Braun said. "This team has never had any quit or any doubters."
Said Jackson, who scored 21 of his 30 points during the second half: "That's our instinct - a fighter instinct."
Original Print Headline: UAB, Houston, Tulane nab first-round wins
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
UAB's Jordan Swing floats up a shot in front of SMU's Shawn Williams during their first-round game in the C-USA tournament on Wednesday at the BOK Center. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World