Although the weather was cold, Rice basketball stayed hot, downing UTSA at Tudor Fieldhouse to improve to 6-4 in C-USA play.
Almost from wire to wire, Rice basketball was the better team when they took the court on Thursday night at Tudor Fieldhouse to play UTSA. After opening the season with a brutal stretch that featured some of the league’s best teams, Rice has played back-to-back games against Southern Miss and UTSA — teams that currently sit at the bottom of the standings — and the Owls were able to pull away to secure wins against each.
The Thursday tilt with UTSA started innocently enough. The teams traded baskets early with UTSA leading 8-6 after four minutes were in the books. Then Rice began to heat up. The Owls went on a dominant 19-7 run, doing the fast majority of their damage inside. Max Fiedler needed less than 12 minutes of game time to reach double-digit points.
Last Time Out: Rice Basketball surges past Southern Miss
UTSA would go on a run of their own in the closing minutes of the first half to cut what had been a 17-point Rice lead down to four at the break. Rather than get rattled, Rice took the interlude to take a deep breath and came out ready in the second half.
No matter how hard UTSA pushed, Rice had an answer. The Roadrunners tied the game up with back-to-back baskets right out of the game before Rice answered with an 11-2 run to widen the gap once more. Neither team would score more than two consecutive shots before the other snuck in, that was until Rice hit three in a row to take a 70-61 with under eight minutes to play.
Rice would hold on down the stretch, adjusting well to whatever the UTSA defense threw at them late in the game, finding good shots and ruining any hopes the Roadrunners had for a late rally.
Player Spotlight | Travis Evee
On a night where the Owls’ opponents made some runs, Rice needed just about everyone to step up. Carl Pierre and Fiedler paved the way early, but it was Evee’s consistent shooting stroke that kept the team moving.
Evee connected on seven of his 11 shots from the field, scoring 16 points. He had five assists and four rebounds while only turning the ball over once. He was as constant as anyone on the team and his back-to-back triples to start the second half were absolutely crucial.
Stat Corner | Take it to the basket
Rice basketball will always be known for their propensity to shoot from far away, but they put on a clinic on how to get to the hoop on Thursday against UTSA. The Owls attempted just six three-pointers, making two, on their way to a massive first-half lead. They scored 28 of their first 44 points in the paint, finishing with 46 points in the paint. They outscored UTSA 18 to 2 on fastbreak points.
It’s more than evident this team has evolved and grown on offense. They’re a balanced scoring team that continues to develop their defensive chops as the season progresses.
Final Box | Rice 91 – UTSA 78
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 4, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
The second of a four-game homestand will take place on Saturday when Rice basketball hosts UTEP at Tudor Fieldhouse. From there the Owls will play North American on Tuesday, Feb. 8 and North Texas on Saturday, Feb. 12.
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