Rice basketball started fast and led wire-to-wire in their victory over St. Edwards in the Owls’ lone exhibition contest before the 2021-2022 season.
Unlike the beginning of the prior season in which Rice basketball experienced a turnover of nearly its entire starting lineup and several other key members of the roster, the Owls enter the 2021-2022 season with largely the same faces on the hardwood of Tudor Fieldhouse. On Thursday night in front of their first home crowd since 2019, the team showcased their renewed depth and two new additions who are expected to become mainstays in the core rotation: Terrance McBride and Carl Pierre.
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Pierre drew the start and scored 10 points with five rebounds in 26 minutes of action. McBride came off the bench and added four points of his own in 17 minutes. Both were part of a constant stream of faces of the Owls’ bench.
The number of players head coach Scott Pera opts to utilize going forward will likely be a much smaller circle, but for Thursday’s exhibition, getting a good feel for all of his guys in live-action was the goal. “I was more concerned with minutes than I was with anything else,” Pera said.
“It’s a long season, a lot of games” Pierre echoed, “There’s a lot of wear and tear that comes with it. To be able to go deep into our bench and have good depth is going to be huge.”
Rice opened things up with a quick basket from Max Fiedler, who grabbed a feed inside from Pierre and laid it up for an easy two points. In the first five minutes, Rice would stretch that two-point lead to a 12-4 advantage, extending their edge to 21 points in the first half behind a balanced distribution of touches and scoring.
St. Edwards would chip away in the second half, cutting the sizable difference down to as few as six points during the early stages. Rice responded by going to the glass, pushing their lead back to 14 with a pair of dunks, three layups and a Quincy Olivari free throw. Rice would later close on a 10-0 run to secure the exhibition win.
Stat Corner | 49.2 percent
Given the free-flowing style of offense Rice basketball likes to play, the Owls’ aren’t going to concern themselves too much with field goal percentage on any given night. Rice averaged a 44.0 percent clip from the field last season, finishing at 50 percent or better in six of their 28 games.
Rice converted on 49.2 percent of their shots against St. Edwards, a game in which they played far more players than they will in the regular season. Combing high-value shots with high-value efficiency will be crucial if this team wants to hit its ceiling. This was a very positive start.
“I think we really stalled (in the second half) we didn’t shoot it great tonight,” Pera remarked afterwards. “I think if you check back, the nights we shot under under 30 percent from three. I don’t think we ever shot close to 50 (percent) from the floor and that’s been the difference in this team the whole preseason. The days in practice we haven’t shot well from three we’ve still shot close to 50 percent from the floor, because we’ve been better around the basket finishing and that’s going to be really, really important.”
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice basketball officially opens its season next week at Tudor Fieldhouse with a game against Pepperdine on Tuesday, Nov. 9. That will be their only remaining tuneup before a trip across town to take on Houston, which opens the season ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll. Rice and Houston did not meet last season.