Toyota Center to host Lone Star Showcase doubleheader

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The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas will play host to a doubleheader on Dec. 21, one of which will serve as the final game of the inagural Big 12-SEC Challenge.

The doubleheader has been named the Lone Star Showcase with the first game of the day being a non-conference matchup between city rivals Rice and Houston. The nightcap will feature Oklahoma and Texas A&M, in their pairing of the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

“This is a very exciting day to have the coaches and schools here to announce a world-class basketball event at Toyota Center,” Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown told CSN Houston on Tuesday. “We want the basketball fans here in Houston to see the great programs here in the area in action.”

Houston will be in its first season in the American Athletic Conference, after spending 17 seasons in Conference-USA. The Lone Star Showcase is a way to keep the rivalry with Rice — who remains in CUSA — intact.

“We are really excited about playing here at Toyota Center,” Rice head coach Ben Braun said. “Continuing our rivalry with Houston is important and regardless of conference realignment it’s important that we continue to play.

“We have had some great games with Houston and we want to continue this rivalry. It’s important to our program and our fans.”

The Rice-Houston game with tip at 3:30 p.m. followed by the Sooners and Aggies at 6 p.m.

Eastern Michigan, Houston, IUPUI wins kick off 2012-13 season

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Everyone is set for Friday night’s big match-ups to begin the 2012-13 season, but three games took place Friday afternoon to officially begin the year. Check out the three games below:

Eastern Michigan 66, Rochester 52

The Eagles thought they had lost their head coach to an NBA job this offseason, but Rob Murphy returns to the sidelines in 2012-13 and led his team to victory in the season opener. EMU senior Derek Thompson scored 22 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. Ray Lee and Daylen Harrison added 12 points apiece for the Eagles. Drew Maynard led the way for Rochester, scoring 27 of the Warriors’ 52 points on 11-of-19 shooting. EMU plays again Sunday when they travel to Jacksonville State.

Houston 81, Florida A&M 76

Houston enters its final season in Conference USA before moving to the Big East and began it’s 2012-13 season with a narrow win over Florida A&M. Leon Gibson scored 20 points and TaShawn Thomas scored 11 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the win. Highly touted freshman Danuel House struggled to find his stroke in his first official collegiate game, going 1-of-6 from the floor for six points. Reggie Lewis and Jamie Adams led Florida A&M with 18 points each.

IUPUI 67, Utah Valley 54

IUPUI was chosen to finish fifth in the Summit League preseason coaches’ poll, but got a double-digit win over Utah Valley to begin the year. John Hart scored 19 points to lead the Jaguars and Mitchell Patton added 15 points and seven rebounds. Holton Hunsaker tallied 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Houston hires Tulane’s Ronnie Hamilton as assistant

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North Carolina native Ronnie Hamilton has been hired as an assistant at the University of Houston, the school announced Friday.

Hamilton comes to the staff after spending two years at Tulane and having previously served on staff at The Citadel, Tarleton State, and UNC-Pembroke.

“Houston is a great academic institution with a long tradition in basketball,” said Hamilton in a statement. “All of those factors sold me on this opportunity. It’s a dream come true to be a part of such a great staff and to be able to help Houston Basketball add to its long history of success as we move forward into the BIG EAST Conference.”

Hamilton takes the place of assistant Ulric Maligi, who left Houston to take the same position on Larry Brown’s staff at SMU.

“Ronnie will be an outstanding addition to our program,” head coach James Dickey said. “He brings a lot of energy, work ethic and has developed an outstanding reputation as a coach and as a recruiter. Ronnie will be a mentor, role model and leader for our young men, and we welcome him to the University of Houston.”

The Cougars are coming off a season in which they finished 15-15, including 7-9 in the C-USA. A strong recruiting class if coming for the 2012-13 season, though, led by Top 20 player Danuel House.

Alongside House comes forward Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, center Valentine Izundu, and junior college transfers Brandon Morris and Tony Womack.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Houston adds junior college guards Tione Womack, Brandon Morris

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Even with Top 20 prospect Danuel House, 6-9 forward Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, and big man Valentine Izundu signed from the Class of 2012, Houston is not done.

The Cougars added two more signatures on Thursday, with junior college guards Brandon Morris and Tione Womack.

Womack, from Hagerstown CC (Md.), is a 6-1 point guard who averaged 10 points and 7.6 assists this past season, leading HCC to a 28-5 record.

“He has been a proven winner everywhere he has competed, and we look forward to his leadership on our team,” Houston coach James Dickey said in a release. “Tione has a pass-first mentality that creates easy scoring opportunities for his teammates and is a quick, solid on-ball defender.”

He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Morris is similar in size to Womack, at 6-0, 185 pounds, and played junior college basketball at Kansas City CC (Kan.).

This past season, he averaged 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.

“He is an explosive lead guard with great court vision,” Dickey said in a statement. “He can defend as well as score. Brandon will add experience to our backcourt.”

Houston’s recruiting class is in the Top 20 in the nation, and these two junior college additions can only help.

The Cougars finished last season 15-15, including 7-9 in Conference USA. Leading scorer Jonathon Simmons is foregoing his senior season and heading to the NBA draft after averaging 14.7 points per game in his junior campaign.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_