By Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) - Reggie Upshaw scored 20 points and Giddy Potts hit two free throws with a second left to polish off Middle Tennessee’s 80-77 victory to spoil Rice’s Conference USA home opener Thursday night.

Connor Cashaw’s jumper with 2:32 left pulled Rice even, 69-69, but Upshaw hit two free throws to give the Blue Raiders the lead for good with two minutes left.

Middle Tennessee (12-3, 2-0) hit 30 of 60 shots from the field, including 9 of 17 from long range. JaCorey Williams added 19 points and Potts contributed another 17.

Egor Koulechov scored 31 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to lead Rice (11-5, 1-2), with Marcus Evans adding another 23. The Owls shot 25 of 53 from the field (47.2 percent), including 9 of 20 shots from beyond the three-point arc, but the team committed 14 turnovers.

Koulechov leads Conference USA in scoring at 185 points per game.

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