For the first time this season, Southern Miss has won a Conference USA game thanks to an ineffective road showing by Rice Basketball.
Rice basketball began the season with a 50 point drubbing on the road at Arkansas. Then they responded with four straight wins, including a come-from-behind 22-point bounce back on the road against UC Santa Barbara. The strange start left opened the door to an array of questions, first and foremost, what is this team going to be? Almost three months later, we still don’t know.
Unfortunately, the Owls’ most recent outing answer more of those questions than they might have wanted. The 4-win Golden Eagles led the Owls for the vast majority of regulation, eventually ratcheting their advantage into the double digits, a familiar feeling for the Owls in recent weeks. After starting the season 8-4, Rice basketball sits at a gut-wrenching 9-10.
At the onset, this game felt a lot like Rice football’s road game against UTSA. In that contest, the Owls were perceived to be the team with the advantage and were playing a game they felt like they should win — in some ways needed to win. Instead, the downtrodden Owls let the struggling Roadrunners do more or less whatever they wanted, scratching yet another mark in a growing loss column. The basketball team can now relate.
Southern Miss had lost seven consecutive games to teams not named Tougaloo (an NAIA squad that scored 77 on the Golden Eagles just before Christmas). Rice lost 81-68. Nothing went right. Drew Peterson fouled out. Ako Adams had zero points, going 0-for-7 from the floor. Rice shot 25.7 percent from three.
What happens will go a long way toward determining the fate of this season. The football team used the pain of the UTSA loss to rally, ending the season on a high note. Rice basketball hopes to rise from the depths in much the same way.
FULL BOX | Rice falls to Southern Miss on the road pic.twitter.com/C0XblvPe2O
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) January 19, 2020
Player of the game – Trey Murphy
Trey Murphy seems to have found his shooting stroke. After making two or fewer three-pointers in four of five games, Murphy has combined to make 10 from deep in the Owls’ last two contests. He’s had back-to-back 20 point games, adding 6-of-7 free throws, five rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal against Southern Miss. If Rice basketball is going to get back on track, Murphy will be a catalyst.
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