Rice basketball overcame a slow start, surging past North Texas to secure one of the more impactful wins of head coach Scott Pera’s tenure.
Rice basketball had defeated North Texas once in their last 11 meetings entering Thursday Night’s matchup at the Super Pit, losing by an average of 25 points per game over the past four contests. The Mean Green just simply had the Owls’ number and that appeared to be the case again early on with the home team roaring out to a 13-2 lead.
Down early, Rice swerved from their usual three-point heavy approach and took the ball inside, exploiting mismatches they had on the drive with their superior guard play from Quincy Olivari and Travis Evee.
Sure enough, that double-digit lead dwindled until Rice erased it entirely with a 9-0 run punctuated by another big drive and score from Olivari to take a 21-20 lead, the Owls’ only edge in the first half.
North Texas wasn’t particularly effective in close range, maintaining their advantage early in the second half primarily with three-pointers — they hit 10 of 27 threes — rather than attacking inside. But when those threes stopped, Rice took over.
The Mean Green hit their final three of the game with 11:29 remaining in the second half, putting them up by five points, 47-42. From that point onward, Rice outscored North Texas 30-13, including a devastating 11-0 run over a four-minute span to put the game away for good and secure head coach Scott Pera’s first career win at North Texas.
Spotlight | Pera’s plan
Rice basketball had two improbable firsts in its win over North Texas. First, Pera’s game plan was entirely bespoke. The Owls entered the game averaging 25.4 three-point attempts per game. They attempted just seven such shots on Thursday night, the fewest three-point attempts by a Pera-coached Rice squad, ever.
Equally surprising for a team that has traditionally relied on the long ball, the low number of deep shots led to a meager three successful three-point baskets. That’s the fewest three-pointers made in a Rice victory under Pera, ever.
For Pera to flip the script 180 degrees took guts. And it worked. A double-digit underdog in the betting markets, Pera’s squad left Denton with what is arguably the most impressive win of his tenure, a win Pera described as a true “program win.”
Final Box | Rice 72 – North Texas 60
FINAL | @RiceMBB 72 – NT 60
Statement win by the Owls in Denton. pic.twitter.com/veWSZYPJHI
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) January 20, 2023
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice basketball returns home for a two-game set at Tudor Fieldhouse this weekend. They’ll host Charlotte on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m. CT then play UAB at 2:00 p.m. to close out the homestand.
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