Rice basketball opened the Ball Dawgs Classic with a loss to Indiana State, losing the turnover battle and allowing too many long range shots.
Nothing seemed amiss in the early goings of the opening game for Rice basketball at the Ball Dawgs Classic in Las Vegas, NV. Rice and Indiana State traded early shots and were neck and neck through the first half of the opening frame. With the Owls leading 19-18 and the clock ticking under 12, it felt like a competitive game was about to unfold. That would not be the case.
Rice would go on to make just two shots in the next seven minutes of court time. During that period, Indiana State rained down six threes. The Owls simply could not keep up and their woes were further magnified by a season-high 18 turnovers.
That run took a close game and teetered it toward blowout territory. By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, Rice trailed by 21. Travis Evee did his part, contributing a season-high 25 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early hole. Rice cut the deficit to 13 in the final minute, but they never had a real chance to win this basketball game once they fell behind in the manner with which they did.
“We knew they were a really good team coming in. They are a good team,” head coach Scott Pera said. “They made 16 threes and you’re never going to lose when you do that.”
Final Box | Indiana State 103 – Rice 88
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 22, 2023
Key takeaway | Don’t Hand Away Your Margin
Rice basketball had committed 18 turnovers in their last two games combined and 23 total on the season. To turn the ball over 18 times was devastating for the Owls’ offensive flow and marked one of the sloppiest performances taking care of the basketball for this team in quite some time. They only had three games with more turnovers in all of last season.
Pera pointed directly toward that glaring deficiency when explaining the loss. “I think it was our inability to take care of the ball,” he said. “We gave them turnovers. We gave them some open looks. There was a lot of miscommunication on defense that gave them wide-open looks. And they didn’t miss them.”
Rice made 10 threes against Indiana State and shot the ball decently well. They scored 88 points. This was a game that might have been competitive if the Owls had done enough to keep the game within reach. This team can score, but that skill won’t pay dividends if the defense and ball handling aren’t strong enough to keep games within reach.
There’s only so much margin for error that can be accounted for in a basketball game. Rice handed away all that margin and then some. The best teams struggle to win when turning the ball over at the rate the Owls’ did on Tuesday. Rice has some work to do before they’re in that company.
Up Next: Ball Dawg’s Classic – Henderson, NV (New Mexico – Nov. 22)
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