POSTED: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 9:20pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 10:42pm
Reserve guard Julian DeBose nailed a jumper with 0.2 seconds left – his only field goal of the game – as Rice handed UTEP a second straight gut-wrenching loss in the city of Houston, 77-75 on Wednesday at Tudor Fieldhouse.
The game-winner negated a fine comeback by the Miners (10-12, 3-5 C-USA), who crawled out of a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes and took a 73-72 lead on two free throws by Gabriel McCulley with 24 seconds remaining.
After Arsalan Kazemi’s three-point play with15 seconds to go put the Owls (13-10, 4-4 C-USA) up 75-73, Cedrick Lang followed Michael Perez’s miss with a putback to tie the game, setting up DeBose’s last-second heroics.
DeBose wasn’t the only unlikely hero for Rice, as freshman forward Jarelle Reischel scored 20 points – one shy of his career high. Reischel filled up the stat sheet, adding six rebounds and five steals while making 7-of-12 shots, 3-of-3 three pointers and 3-of-3 free throws.
The Owls also received solid play inside from Kazemi (20 points/nine rebounds) and 7-2 Omar Oraby (11 points/eight rebounds/four blocks in 17 minutes).
“Our kids played their hearts out,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They’re so disappointed because we had an opportunity in both games [at Houston and Rice]. Give DeBose credit for making a big play.
“Reischel really surprised us, based on his previous performances. He’s not somebody that we figured would beat us. He played great.”
Four players – McCulley (23 points), John Bohannon (18), Julian Washburn (16) and Perez (14) – combined to score 71 of UTEP’s 75 points. McCulley (10 rebounds) and Bohannon (12 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
The Miners shot 44.4 percent from the field, an unlikely recipe for disaster in a season where they’re 0-10 with a field goal percentage in the 40s.
“I was pleased with our execution throughout the night on the offensive end,” Floyd said. “We really struggled with Kazemi in the second half, but it was difficult because they surrounded him with four shooters.”
The Miners, coming off Saturday’s 81-76 overtime setback at Houston in which they lost a 15-point lead, dropped to 0-8 on the road.
UTEP trailed by 10 points (37-27) with under four minutes remaining in the first half before mounting a 13-4 run to pull within a point (41-40) at the intermission. Late in the second half, five straight points by the Owls -- a three-pointer by Reischel and jumper by Connor Frizzelle -- lifted them into the short-lived seven-point lead.
The game featured 10 ties and 26 lead changes.
“McCulley had a terrific first half [17 points],” Floyd said. “Mike Perez was steady throughout the game. We had a solid performance from Bohannon on the boards. Washburn has had a great last two games, and he did a great job on Ahmad Ibrahim [nine points] tonight. We just didn’t get enough stops in the game to win on the road.”
With eight of the 16 C-USA regular season games in the books, the Miners will look to make a second-half run starting with three straight home games. UTEP will face UAB on Saturday, Tulsa on Wednesday and Tulane on Feb. 11 at the Don Haskins Center, all at 7 p.m.
Saturday is “Noche Latina Night.” UTEP players will wear Mineros jerseys, Mariachis will be on hand, Mexican food specials will be available and the high-wire act ACRODUNK will perform at halftime.