Rice basketball is 2-1 in the New Year and looking to stay above .500 with a win over UTEP on Saturday. Can the Owls get it done?
After a two-straight conference wins over Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, Rice fell on the road to UTSA on Thursday. The setback puts them at 2-2 in conference play with two more games remaining on the Owls’ longest conference road trip of the season.
UTEP has had more struggles than Rice this season. The Miners haven’t beaten a team all season who currently holds a winning record. The closest they’ve come was a seven-point victory over Eastern New Mexico, a DII squad.
The game is not scheduled for TV broadcast but will be available on CUSA TV. Radio is available via the Stretch Internet Portal.
UTEP 5-9 (0-3), Last 5 (1-4)
- L, 58-51 vs North Texas
- L, 67-63 vs UTSA
- L, 75-60 @ UTSA
- W, 76-65 vs Wyoming
- L, 75-62 vs Norfolk State
Rice 7-10 (2-2), Last 5 – (2-3)
- L, 95-79 @ UTSA
- W, 78-66 vs Louisiana Tech
- W, 73-65 vs Southern Miss
- L, 103-87 vs North Texas
- L, 83-66 vs Omaha
UTEP players to watch
Freshman forward Ege Odigie has been the driving force for all the Miners’ successes on both ends of the court. He leads the team with 10.1 rebounds per game, 7.6 on the defensive glass. He’s also second in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per game despite being fifth on the team in average minutes played per game.
Sophomore guard Evan Gilyard leads UTEP in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game, but freshman Jordan Lathon might be the most dangerous player on the court. Foul trouble has limited his upside this season, but he’s averaging 15 points per game over his last five games in which he hasn’t fouled out. He leads the team in assists (3.1 per game) and steals (1.3 per game).
Rice keys to victory
Despite having several players with scoring potential, the ceiling of the UTEP offense is extremely limited. Shot for shot, they don’t match up on a consistent basis with players like Chris Mullins and Jack Williams.
Rice has to come to play and find ways to neutralize UTEP’s interior presence. Getting UTEP to the line isn’t the goal, rather Rice needs to force the Miners to take bad shots and be there to capitalize on the rebound.
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