Rider (1-3) vs. Rice (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leavey Center (4,500) -- Santa Clara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Rider 0-1, Rice 1-2. Away Record: Rider 1-2, Rice 1-1. Neutral Record: Rider 0-0, Rice 0-0. Conference Record: Rider 0-0, Rice 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams looking to right the ship meet Friday when the Rider Broncs and the Rice Owls battle in the 47th annual Cable Car Classic at Leavey Center.
North Dakota State and host Santa Clara are playing the other semifinal on Friday, with the winners squaring off on Saturday following a consolation game.
Rider, which has never played Rice on the hardwood, is coming off a loss in its home opener against Albany. The Broncs lost two of their first three games on the road, their only win coming against Central Connecticut. They couldn't handle Albany on Tuesday, falling 70-59, despite forcing 21 turnovers.
Albany had a 21-8 advantage at the free-throw line and shot 53.8 percent from the field in disposing of the Broncs, who were led by Anthony Myles' 17 points. That effort pushed Myles' season total to 15.5 points per game, second on the club behind Daniel Stewart. Stewart is putting up 16.3 ppg, while also bringing down a team-best 5.3 rebounds per contest. Zedric Sadler (12.3 ppg) and Jimmie Taylor (12.0 ppg) have been solid contributors, but there has not been much production from the Rider reserves.
Rice has had a slew of close games in the early going. Their first two losses to Southeastern Louisiana and Texas A&M were by a combined four points, and their two wins came by a total of 11. In those first four games, the Owls never trailed by more than six points at any point, but that changed last Saturday when they lost to Princeton, 70-56, on their home floor.
Even though four players average double digits on the season, none reached 10 in Saturday's setback. Sean Obi, Max Guercy and Austin Ramljak all had nine points, while Marcus Jackson added seven. Those four are all putting up at least 10.2 points per game, with Guercy topping the squad with a modest 12.6.
Obi has had an efficient freshman season thus far, as he leads Conference-USA in field goal percentage at 71.0 percent and is also among the league leaders with 8.6 rebounds per game. The team as a whole however, is connecting on just 41.6 percent of its shot and only 30.7 percent from behind the arc. A penchant for turnovers (13 giveaway per game) is also hurting Rice's chances in their close contests.
Rice has only given up 70 points once this season. Rider, on the other hand, is giving up 79.0 points per game and is allowing teams to shoot 51.2 percent from the floor. The inside presence of Obi and the Owls' depth should be enough for Rice to even its record.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 75, Rider 68
11/29 10:54:49 ET