Rice basketball returns home reeling from back-to-back one-point road defeats. Can the Owls right their fortunes against Middle Tennessee?
A pair of one-point losses separates Rice from a 4-2 conference record, a mark which would tie them for fourth in the conference standings. Instead, the Owls sit at 2-4 in desperate need for another win to prevent a short stretch of bad luck from snowballing.
Coming off a game against North Texas, CUSA’s most winningest team, Rice returns home to play Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders own the worst winning percentage in the conference (5-14). This is the Owls’ get-right game. It’s not a must-win contest, but the schedule is going to get tough again in February. Rice needs to capitalize on this opportunity.
The game is not scheduled for TV broadcast but will be available on CUSA TV. Radio is available via the Stretch Internet Portal.
Middle Tennessee 5-14 (2-4), Last 5 (2-3)
- W, 75-72 vs UTEP
- W, 89-86 vs UTSA
- L, 73-56 @ Louisiana Tech
- L, 77-70 @ Southern Miss
- L, 63-56 vs FAU
Rice 7-12 (2-4), Last 5 – (2-3)
- L, 76-75 vs North Texas
- L, 65-64 @ UTEP
- L, 95-79 @ UTSA
- W, 78-66 vs Louisiana Tech
- W, 73-65 vs Southern Miss
Middle Tennesse players to watch
Middle lives on the shooting hand of junior guard Antonio Green. They are 5-6 when Green scores 20 points and 0-8 when he’s held to 19 points or fewer. His 18.5 points per game are sixth most in Conference USA and he ranks fifth in with a 34.6 percent conversion rate on his three point shots.
Outside of Green the Blue Raiders get thin, fast. Sophomore guard Donovan Sims has scored a combined 36 points with nine rebounds and nine assists on their two-game winning streak. Junior Forward Reggie Scurry tied his season high in points on Saturday in their win over UTEP.
Rice keys to victory
This is a low volume offense that gives up 75.8 points per game. The Blue Raiders don’t score a ton, averaging 66.6 points. Rice scores at a much more aggressive clip, 75.3 points per game, but have given up 79.2 points per contest. If Rice plays their game and stays disciplined with the ball in their hands, the Owls should have too much offensive firepower for MTSU to keep up with.
The offense is only going to be as lethal as Chris Mullins makes it. After scoring double-digit points in 12-straight games, Mullins was held to six in the loss to North Texas on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. He hasn’t led the team in scoring since racking up 17 points against Omaha in late December.
Ako Adams and Jack Williams have helped carry the load offensively, but this team needs a bit more umph to put them over the edge. Mullins has that kind of talent.
- Rice Basketball 2021 Game Previews: Owls vs Old Dominion
- Conference USA Football and COVID-19: Postponements abound in 2020
- Rice Women’s Basketball: 2020-2021 Midseason State of the Program
- Rice Football: 10 Takeaways from 2020 season