The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

Zach Lofton's 26 and Griffin's 16 and 12 lead Texas Southern over Rice

Posted: November 16, 2016 -- 11:35 pm CDT.

HOUSTON, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) -- Zach Lofton carried Texas Southern in the first half Wednesday night. His teammates picked up the slack in the second half as the Tigers edged the Rice Owls 71-68 in an exciting ball game between two of Houston's local universities.

Lofton scored a game-high 26 points. He scored 17 of the Tigers' 31 first half points. Lofton made 7 of 15 field goal attempts in the opening half while his teammates were an ice-cold 4 for 17 from the floor.

"He's a big time player. He had 35 his first game," said Mike Davis, Texas Southern's head coach, after the game. "Tonight, he showed what he can do. He had 17 points at the half. He can score the ball. When we need somebody to go to (to score), he's the guy."

Despite the Tigers poor field goals shooting (34.4%) in the first half, the Tigers were within four points (35-31) at halftime because the Tigers forced the Owls to commit 14 turnovers. The Tigers (2-1) only turned the ball over seven times in the half.

Texas Southern lost the rebounding battle 27-14 in the opening half; but, the Tigers bounced back in the second half and won the battle of the boards 28-21.

"Coach (Mike Davis) told us (at halftime) we had to come out and rebound," said Lofton after the game. "We weren't boxing out. They were getting a lot of second chance shots. In the second half, I think we fought a little bit harder."

"Our guys were just so excited," said Coach Davis. "They lost a lot of loose balls (rebounds). But, they had 14 turnovers in the first half and that kept us in the game."

Lofton sank a 3 point shot to start the second half and slice the Tigers' deficit to 35-34; but, Marcus Jackson answered with a three-point shot for a 38-34 Owls' lead.

TSU big Marvin Jones swished a three-pointer (in front of the Tigers' bench) to pull the Tigers' closer; then, Derrick Griffin nailed a jumper at the 16:52 mark for a 39-38 Tigers' lead.

Jones' basket was his only made field goal in the game.

Neither team scored for nearly two minutes before Griffin split two free throws before teammate Kevin Scott sank two free throws 30 seconds later for a 42-38 TSU lead.

Rice's Chad Lott split two free throws to end the Owls' five minute scoreless drought; but, the field goal drought continued until Egor Koulechov nailed a jump shot at the 12:20 mark of the second half.

The Tigers led by seven points twice (48-41 and 52-45) before the Owls went on a 6-0 spurt to trim the Tigers' lead to one (52-51) with 7:06 remaining in the game.

TSU kept the Owls at arms' length for two minutes. Lofton nailed a jump shot for a 61-55 Tigers' lead with 4:45 remaining.

Rice's Koulechov scored five points sandwiched around two Lofton free throws for a 63-60 TSU lead.

Then, Dulani Robinson nailed a tough step-back jumper for a 65-60 lead for the Tigers. However, the Owls continued to chip away. Connor Cashaw sank a three-pointer; but, 1 minute later, Derrick Griffin made two free throws for a four point (67-63) lead.

Marcus Evans sank two free throws; but, seconds later, Lamont Walker nailed two more free throws for a 69-65 TSU lead with only 58 seconds remaining.

After Evans missed a long jump shot, Cashaw rebounded the miss and passed the ball back to Evans and Evans swished a three-point shot for a one point game with 45 seconds remaining.

Lofton missed a jumper with 18 seconds remaining. Jackson rebounded the missed and dribbled up the court and called the Owls' final timeout with 9 seconds left in the ball game.

After the timeout, Evans missed a go-ahead three-point shot attempt; and, Kevin Scott pulled down the rebound with 1.1 second remaining. The Owls were forced to foul Scott. Scott made both free throws which set up a desperation three point shot attempt by Evans which Lofton blocked to seal the victory for Texas Southern.

Lofton made only 3 of his 12 field goal attempts in the second half.

"I'm a volume shooter," Lofton admitted after the game. "I'm a scorer. I can get some more rebounds. I need to get more assists. But, I can do a little bit of everything. I just have to get better at everything."

Derrick Griffin scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for the Tigers. Griffin also swatted three shots. Griffin made 8 of his 9 foul shots; and, the Tigers shot 21 of 24 from the line in the game.

The Tigers only committed nine turnovers in the game compared to 22 Rice turnovers.

With tonight's win, Texas Southern has some city bragging rights over Rice.

"We talked about it that everybody in Houston wants to win the game," Lofton said. "We're both in Houston. I haven't been around Houston that much; but, I know it meant a lot to our fans and our staff. I'm glad we came out and got this win. That's big for us."

CLICK HERE for more of The HRR's NCAAM's write-ups.

Click to Support The HRR

Click here to Support The HRR

Official Merchandise

Houston Roundball Review Merch

Shop at

HBCUs gear

Houston Cougars gear

Rice Owls gear

Texas A&M Aggies gear

Texas Longhorns gear

Texas Southern Tigers gear

Shop at

Houston Rockets gear

Shop at