Rice basketball was blasted by the UAB Blazers for the second time this season, falling in Birmingham in a game that was all but over at halftime.
Everything seemed in normal order on Thursday evening when Ty Brewer opened the scoring for UAB with a jumper to put Rice Basketball behind 2-0 in the opening minute. Rice would answer, twice, going ahead 4-2. The Blazers would go on a run from there, but even when KJ Buffen hit a three leading into the first media timeout to put UAB up 15-4, things didn’t feel out of control. That would change quickly, though.
UAB would grow their lead to 21 points before Rice would score again. The Owls’ swipes soon seemed to be little more than paper cuts against the Blazers’ impervious defense and aggressive counterattack. Following a Quincy Olivari three to bring Rice back within 18 points, UAB would deliver another back-breaking rally, outscoring Rice 21-2 over the next stretch, taking a 50-13 lead late in the first half, ending with a 55-24 halftime advantage.
Unsurprisingly, Rice basketball was unable to climb out of the 27-point halftime hole, falling on the road in decisive fashion. Next, they’ll travel to Charlotte in a game the Owls must win if they hope to hold off the 49ers in the race for the final first-round bye.
Final Box | UAB 84 – Rice 57
FINAL | UAB 84 – Rice 57 pic.twitter.com/7i2wUU4FEe
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 24, 2023
Key takeaway | The duality of the Owl
For better or worse, Rice basketball seems to have settled into an exhausting back-and-forth between one of two styles of game. On some days, Rice is locked in, they rally to a decent lead, then try their best to hold on in the final minutes. In the others, they’re blasted out of the gates, fall behind by a considerable amount and are realistically out of the game before the second half gets underway.
The latter is where Rice found itself on Thursday night. After posting a quiet 4-2 lead, UAB ripped off a 25-1 run and that was that. It was an off night and Rice had no answer, at least not until the game was well past out of reach. This isn’t a new development with this team and they’re running out of time to find a solution. The conference tournament will be here soon and there will be no more grace given for off days. It’ll be win or go home.
Up Next: at Charlotte – Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3:00 p.m.
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