Feb. 1, 2008
NEW ORLEANS -The Tulane Green Wave puts its four-game win streak on the line this Saturday at 7 p.m. when it continues a three-game road swing against the Rice Owls at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
On the docket for the Green Wave (14-6, 4-2 C-USA) is a chance to maintain its top five standing in the conference race. Currently, Tulane is in a three-way tie with UTEP and UCF for fourth place in the league standings. Rice is winless in Conference USA play this season.
Tulane began its current three-game road swing last week in Greenville, N.C., where the Green Wave dispatched East Carolina with a convincing 72-56 victory. Following the Rice game, TU concludes its longest road stretch in conference play at UTEP on Wed., Feb. 6.
Tulane is 11-3 in its last 14 games, and brings a two-game road win streak into the Rice affair. The Wave is 3-3 overall in road games this season, and has a mark of 2-1 away from home in league games.
During its 11 wins, the Green Wave has put together three or more straight wins on four occasions, including two stretches with four-consecutive victories. After suffering back-to-back losses to UAB and Southern Miss in its first two conference games of the year, Tulane has reeled off four straight wins over Tulsa (67-65), Rice (61-56), SMU (67-52) and East Carolina.
For the year, Tulane is averaging 67.9 points and 35.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 32.8 percent from behind the three-point line and 73.5 percent from the free-throw line.
David Gomez is one of three Green Wave players scoring in double figures with 14.2 points per game, while Kevin Sims and Robinson Louisme are second and third with 12.2 and 10.1 points per outing, respectively. Gomez and Louisme are also the team's top rebounders with 5.8 boards per game, respectively, while Sims leads the squad in assists and steals with 4.1 and 1.6 per contest, respectively.
Rice (3-16, 0-6 C-USA) has lost nine straight games entering Saturday's contest with Tulane. The Owls' skid dates back to its last win, a 70-65 victory over former Western Athletic Conference and Southwest Conference rival TCU on Dec. 29. During its nine-game skid, Rice is averaging just 50.8 points per game, while giving up nearly 69 points per outing to its opponents.
Rice has an overall home record of 1-7 and a league mark of 0-3 this season, and the Owls are 1-1 at the Merrell Center this season with its win over TCU, but fell to Duquesne, 86-59, in its first appearance at the facility.
For the season, Rice is averaging 55.5 points and 37.4 rebounds per game, and is shooting 36.9 percent from the field, including 26.5 percent from behind the arc, and 63 percent from the foul line.
Paulius Packevicius leads two Owls in double figure scoring with 11.1 points per game, while Rodney Foster is averaging 10.1 points per contest. Packevicius is also the team's top rebounder with 9.8 boards per outing.
Tulane has won four consecutive games heading into its contest at Rice. Should the Green Wave capture a victory over the Owls and extend its streak to five straight, it would mark the first time in eight years that Tulane has strung together five consecutive wins. The last time was in 1999-2000, when the Wave had a stretch of nine and five straight wins.
Saturday's game marks the 40th all-time meeting between Tulane and Rice, and the Owls leads the series, 21-18. Tulane has won the last two contests against Rice and can match it longest win streak in the series with a win this Saturday. Previously, the Wave won three straight decisions from 1979-81.
TU is 3-2 against Rice since the Owls became a Conference USA member in 2005, but the Green Wave has struggled against the Owls in Houston, winning just three of 18 contests. The last win for Tulane at Rice came on Jan. 18, 2006, 70-53. Prior to that win, the only other victories were recorded in 1948 and 1980.
Tulane should have an advantage over the other teams who have played Rice at the Merrell Center this season. Senior guard Matt Wheaton is a native of Katy (Mayde Creek H.S.), and the Wave should have plenty of fan support from the Wheaton family.
Tulane concludes its three-game swing at UTEP on Wed., Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.