Rice basketball is nearing the end of a hard-fought month of January. Buy stock in Trey Murphy and sell the Owls’ streak of bad luck.
Stock up – Trey Murphy
Freshman guard Trey Murphy had never scored more than 13 points in his collegiate career prior to the Owls’ Jan. 19 game against North Texas. In fact, he’d scored 10 or more points four times in 18 games. He’s averaging 20 points and 3.3 rebounds per game over the last three games, leading the team in scoring and draining 13 three-point shots. He’s one of the hottest hands on the team right now.
Stock down – unforced errors and turnovers
Rice has averaged 12.3 turnovers per game in conference play, a mark which puts them right in the middle of the pack. Giving away extra possession has been amplified by the Owls’ own inability to take the ball away. Their 3.6 steals per game ranks last in conference play. They’ve won a few in spite of the mistakes, but playing more disciplined basketball will open up more opportunities to win.
Stock up – second half intensity
The first outing against North Texas gave a glimpse of what this team might be capable of doing in CUSA play. After leading by double-digits, a woeful second half performance resulted in a 103-87 defeat. Finishing was a problem against UTEP and North Texas, too. Since then, though, Rice has strung together encouraging second half performances against Middle Tennesee and UAB. This team is learning to finish on the fly.
Stock down – Luck
“I don’t know too many teams in certainly my 28 years of coaching have gone through what we’ve gone through the last two Saturdays”, Scott Pera said almost incredulously following the Owls’ win over Middle Tennesse. Continuing on to Ako Adam’s missed three-point attempt in the final second against UAB or looking back to the unfortunate end sequences against UTEP and North Texas, the ball hasn’t bounced the Owls’ way in recent weeks. Their three most recent losses have come by a combined five points.
Stock up – Tudor Fieldhouse
The road has not been kind to Rice this season. Sitting at 1-8 away from their own gym, a 75-67 win over UTRGV in December is the Owls’ only road victory. That contrasts sharply with the Owls’ 7-5 record at home, including a 3-2 mark against conference opponents. A 3-point loss to UAB and a squandered first half lead against North Texas have been the only blemishes on what has largely been a strong showing at home.
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