Rice basketball had a rough week. After falling to UTEP via a clock error the Owls dropped another heartbreaker, this time to North Texas.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from Rice on Saturday. There were mistakes and missteps which played a role in the evaporation of a 16-point lead which later gave way to the Owls’ third-consecutive road defeat. But it took, once again, a perfect storm of Rice mistakes plus unfortunate foul calls and bad bounces for North Texas to eke out the 1-point home win.
North Texas closed the game on an 11-2 run, led by six points (four from free throws) by Mike Miller. He finished with 12, one of four of the Mean Green to top double-digit points. Rice outrebound North Texas 41-31, but committed 18 turnovers to their opponents’ 10.
If the two teams played the final five minutes out 50 times, Rice probably holds on to what was then an 11-point advantage in 30 or 40 of those contests. The same is true of the final seconds of the UTEP game and several of the Owls close losses earlier in the season.
Unfortunately, there are no mulligans. This one stings, but a team which lost to North Texas by 16 a month ago led them by 16 on Saturday and lost by one. Progress is being made.
Player of the game – Trey Murphy
Freshman guard Trey Murphy has shown flashes of greatness this season. His shooting smooth has always been smooth, but he’s been searching for his rhythm. He was the hot hand for the Owls against North Texas, playing a career-high 32 minutes on his way to a career-best 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting from distance. His four three-pointers are the most he’s made in a single game this season.
Up next – Middle Tennessee
After an 0-3 road trip, Rice returns to the friendly confines of Tudor Fieldhouse. They’re 2-1 at home in conference play with the lone loss coming in their final game of 2018. Middle Tennessee lost 12 games in a row earlier this season. Despite their 5-14 record, the Blue Raiders head to Houston winners of two-straight.
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