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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.

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Rice Owls Men's Hoops to Host Owl Invitational Featuring Darius Lee Memorial Classic

POSTED: August 25, 2022 -- 11:55 a.m. CT

Thursday morning, Rice head basketball coach Scott Pera announced the Rice men's basketball team will host the Owl Invitational featuring the Darius Lee Memorial Classic, Nov. 18-21.

“We are excited to be hosting The 2022 Owl Invitational and bringing Georgia Southern and Western Michigan to Houston for the event,” said Pera. “We are also thrilled to partner with Houston Baptist University in this unique format. Each team will play three games in a round-robin format. Rice and HBU will play the final game in the Darius Lee Memorial Classic where we will honor the life of HBU's star player, who was tragically lost this summer. We hope the community comes out and supports the event and shows support for the entire HBU community as they honor their student, teammate, player, and friend.”

The tournament will feature Rice, Georgia Southern, Houston Baptist, and Western Michigan. The Owls will host Georgia Southern on November 18 while HBU hosts Western Michigan. The following day, Rice will host Western Michigan and HBU will host Georgia Southern. GSU and WMU will then face off at Tudor Fieldhouse on November 20.

The final contest of the event will take place on November 21, with Rice hosting Houston Baptist in the Darius Lee Memorial Classic, named in honor of HBU's Darius Lee who tragically lost his life to gun violence this past summer while home in Harlem, N.Y. Lee was a team leader, an all-conference player for the Huskies and was named the school's male student-athlete of the year for the 2021-22 school year.


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Pennell was the Head Coach at Central Arkansas from 2014-20, where he led the Bears to an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational quarterfinals in 2018. Prior to UCA, he was on the bench of the Phoenix Mercury during the 2013-14 season, serving as Interim Head Coach for the final 13 games and guiding them to the Western Conference Finals.

He spent four seasons as the Head Coach at Grand Canyon from 2009-13. Pennell had a 72-44 record at GCU. In 2010-11, he guided the Lopes to their first winning season since 2006 and followed it with seasons of 19 and 23 wins, leading Grand Canyon to the NCAA Division II tournament in back-to-back years.

In 2008-09, following the retirement of Lute Olson in October, Pennell was named Interim Head Coach at Arizona. He guided the Wildcats to a 21-14 record and a berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

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