Rice basketball hung around early, but couldn’t keep pace with Texas, falling in Austin by the final score 80-64. The Owls are 1-2 overall.
A year removed from taking Texas to overtime but coming up short, Rice basketball gave their orange-clad opponents another rigorous challenge in Austin once more. Despite struggling to find their shooting stroke early on, Rice hung around.
It was the Rice defense that enabled them to prolong the fight, forcing eight Texas turnovers in the first half with three steals and two blocks. Anthony Selden was in the middle of many of those key defensive plays. Along the way, the Owls fell behind by as many as 12 points in the first half, but climbed back to within four before another cold spell left them behind by nine at the break.
Texas’ movement was the difference. The Longhorns did a better job consistently creating room for their shooters. That difference in shot quality when combined with a tough night from three for Rice put the visiting Owls in catch-up more all night long until time ran out.
Rice was able to briefly cut the deficit to nine points at the start of the second half, but the Longhorns were able to keep the Owls at arm’s length for more or less the remainder of the contest. Any dreams of a thrilling upset this time around would not come to pass.
Final Box | Texas 80 – Rice 64
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 16, 2023
Key takeaway | The shots will fall
Scott Pera has designed this team to score points. Facilitating open looks and setting up his players to be in the best possible situations for them to succeed is his bread and butter. But — as he’d be the first to tell anyone who asked — it’s the players who make the plays.
For whatever reason, those players haven’t been making the shots. Honestly, it’s basketball. Shooting slumps happen. Teams have off nights where the shot doesn’t fall. That happens more frequently against better defenses, including the one the Owls faced on Wednesday night, but it still happens.
The Texas defense was gritty. Rice didn’t get many clean looks and when they did, they did not convert at a high enough rate. On the other side, when Texas was given open looks, they made Rice pay. It will be the Owls’ night soon enough. 18 percent from three is the exception, not the rule.
Up Next: Ball Dawg’s Classic – Henderson, NV
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