North Texas' DeAndre Harris pressures Rice's Marcus Jackson during the first half of a Conference USA tournament first-round NCAA college basketball game in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP Photo/, Mark Almond), Mark Almond
March 12, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Marcus Jackson sank four 3-pointers and finished with 28 points to lead ninth-seeded Rice to an 82-54 win over No. 8 seed North Texas in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament Wednesday night.

Seth Gearhart, Max Guercy and Van Green added 10 points apiece for Rice (12-19), which controlled the boards 46-33 and held North Texas to just 28.8 percent shooting. Jackson hit 10 of 14 from the field and sank all four of his free throws.

Leading by nine at the break, the Owls opened the second half with a 9-0 burst capped by Green's 3-pointer to make it 47-30 and held a double-digit advantage the rest of the way. The win avenged an opening round overtime loss to North Texas in last year's tournament.

Jeremy Combs led North Texas (14-17) with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while DeAndre Harris added 12 points.

Rice plays top-seeded Louisiana Tech in Thursday's quarterfinal.

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