Rice basketball is riding a two-game winning streak in Conference play. Can the Owls make it three in a row with a win over UTSA on Thursday?
Rice is playing their best basketball of the season at an opportune time. After a slow winter on the court, the Owls have won two in a row. If they want to extend that streak to three they’ll have to win on the road, something that’s been a challenge for head coach Scott Pera’s younger squad.
The Owls have one road win in six chances, downing Rio Grande Valley 75-67 on Dec. 18. Outside of that game, Rice has dropped all their other away games by double-digits. A win against UTSA would give Rice a two-game road winning streak and a third win in conference play.
UTSA 8-7 (2-0), Last 5 (5-0)
- W, 67-63 @ UTEP
- W, 75-60 vs UTEP
- W, 70-67 vs Southeastern Oklahoma St
- W, 64-50 @ Texas A&M CC
- W, 101-77 vs Bethany College
Rice 7-9 (2-1), Last 5 – (3-2)
- W, 78-66 vs Louisiana Tech
- W, 73-65 vs Southern Miss
- L, 103-87 vs North Texas
- L, 83-66 vs Omaha
- W, 75-67 @ Rio Grande Valley
UTSA players to watch
It’s been a two-man show for UTSA this season. Sophomore guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace lead the way, averaging 20.5 and 18.4 points per game, respectively. There have been two games of single-digit scoring between them this season. It doesn’t matter who’s matched up against them, both Jackson and Wallace have torched even the better defensive teams they’ve faced in non-conference play.
The problem for UTSA comes with the next man up. After Jackson and Wallace get their 40 points the Roadrunners have struggled to find anyone else who can be relied upon consistently.
Senior forward Nick Allen has had spurts of strong play, but foul trouble and poor shooting nights have been concerns. Junior forward Byron Frohnen leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.8 boards per game.
Rice keys to victory
The Rice defense has been the linchpin to the Owls’ recent success. After allowing three of their previous four opponents to top 80 points, Rice held both Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech in the 60’s — both of those offenses average in the mid-70’s.
Against UTSA the secret might just be limiting the Roadrunners secondary players. Jackson and Wallace have combined for 40+ points, but they’ve yet to score 70 together against any D1 programs. They’re going to need help. If Rice can limit those secondary pieces and keep the two stars from going too ballistic, things should work out well.
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