GAME NOTES: Two struggling teams in Conference USA will square off at the
Tudor Fieldhouse as the SMU Mustangs look to knock off the Rice Owls on
Larry Brown's Mustangs most recently suffered a 60-52 loss at the hands of
Memphis. It was the second loss in a row for SMU while it was also the fifth
loss in six games. This is the first of a two-game road trip before getting
back home for a pair of games next week. SMU is now .500 on the year at 12-12
and just 2-7 in league play.
Rice is looking to bounce back from a 65-53 loss at UTEP, which was the second
loss in row for the Owls and 10th in the past 12 games. It will be a short
stay at home for Rice before hitting the road for a couple of games at
Marshall and UAB. The Owls are a miserable 5-17 on the season, including a
meager 1-7 mark in-conference.
SMU leads the all-time series between these two teams 118-77, which marks the
most amount of wins for the Mustangs against any other opponent. However, Rice
took the last meeting 43-39 in a defensive standoff in Houston last February
to earn the season sweep of the Mustangs and also earn their third consecutive
win in the series.
Against Memphis, Nick Russell scored 17 points, while Jalen Jones put together
a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort. Ryan Manuel
added 10 points and seven rebounds but the Tigers were still able to get the
win after earning 25 points from the free-throw line, despite shooting only
29.8 percent from the field. This season all five of SMU's starters have
started all 24 games and have been led in scoring and rebounding by Jones with
15.3 and 8.3 while shooting just under 50.0 percent from the floor. Russell is
second in scoring with 14.3 ppg and averages nearly 37 minutes per game.
Led by hall of fame coach Larry Brown, defense is what has kept this team
afloat, as the squad holds opponents to 62.3 ppg and just 39.7 percent
shooting from the floor.
Tamir Jackson led Rice in scoring against UTEP with 12 points but went just
4-of-13 from the field and also recorded five turnovers. Max Guercy added 11
points and Austin Ramljak managed 10 while Julian Debose led the team on the
boards with seven rebounds. The Owls allowed UTEP to shoot 51.1 percent from
the field and knock down 10-of-19 attempts from 3-point range. Jackson leads
the team in both scoring and rebounding with 16.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg, while
Debose and Guercy average 9.8 ppg each. Despite leading the team in scoring,
Jackson shoots just 38.6 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3-point
range but has by far taken the most shots on the team. The struggling Owls
carry a -9.0 point differential and shoot just 40.7 percent from the floor.
SMU is a decent team looking to turn things around late in the season and in
order to do that the Mustangs need to take care of struggling teams like the
Owls. Their solid defense will do more than enough to shut down Rice and be a
first step in finishing the year strong.