A back-and-forth battle ended with a lopsided overtime result as Rice basketball ran out of gas in extra minutes at Tulsa.
Not too far removed from a thriller that went down to the wire, Rice basketball and Tulsa produced another back-and-forth slugfest the second time around. Alem Huseinovic and Max Fiedler provided the offensive spark to get the Owls going early, but Tulsa seemed to have an answer for every Rice run.
Neither side led by more than six points in the first quarter and they were tied at the halftime buzzer. That theme continued after the break, this time with Travis Evee catching fire. He scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, but it was only enough to force extra basketball, not earn a victory.
Those final five minutes belonged solely to the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa opened the scoring in overtime with a 7-0 run. At that point, the result seemed all but decided. The loss was the Owls’ third straight defeat overall and snapped a three-game winning streak on the road in conference play.
Final Box | Tulsa 93 – Rice 82 (OT)
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 17, 2024
Key takeaway | Can’t teach clutch
Aside from the final score, there was a lot to like from the box score for Rice basketball on Saturday. They shot the ball reasonably well, got big games from Travis Evee and Max Fiedler and led Tulsa in rebounds and points in the paint. But games aren’t decided by box scores or by aggregate measures. They’re decided in key moments, in overtime sequences, with everything on the line.
The painful reality for this team right now is this: when the lights have shined the brightest, they haven’t risen to the challenge. That was the case on Saturday against Tulsa. In a winnable game that went to overtime, Rice wilted in extra minutes. Tulsa outscored Rice 14-3 in overtime.
Flip the results of a handful of clutch moments and this Rice team looks respectable against some potent AAC opponents. But that’s not how this works. The clutch gene has avoided the Owls and their record is a reflection of that. There are no points rewarded for almost.
Up Next: at UAB (Wednesday, Feb. 21)
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