Rice (1-1) at Texas A&M (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 15, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Arena (12,989) -- College Station, Texas. Television: FSN, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Rice 1-1, Texas A&M 2-0. Away Record: Rice 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Series Record: Texas A&M leads, 106-82.
GAME NOTES: Lone Star State rivals do battle at Reed Arena on Friday night, as the Texas A&M Aggies play host to the Rice Owls.
With the painful memories of last season's 5-26 record behind it, Rice opened up the new campaign at home last Saturday against the University of St. Thomas and came away with a 69-60 victory. The Owls had another seemingly soft matchup in their second game, as they hosted Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, but they dropped a 63-62 heartbreaker on a last-second field goal.
Texas A&M had a more impressive 2012-13 campaign, going 18-15 overall, although the team hopes for a better showing than it did in its inaugural run through the SEC (7-11). The Aggies have come out of the gate with two wins over Buffalo (82-58) and Mississippi Valley State (91-67) to begin a season- opening, six-game homestand.
With the campuses separated by less than 100 miles, these two programs have certainly gotten to know one another over the years with 188 all-time matchups. Texas A&M holds to a 106-82 advantage.
Rice held a lead as large as 16 points in its latest contest against Southeastern Louisiana, but the advantage slowly dissipated down the stretch before the team fell victim to a game-winning jumper with five seconds left. The Owls were hardly impressive in the outing, shooting less than 43 percent from the field, including a lowly 4-of-18 from 3-point range. Marcus Jackson led the way in a reserve role with 12 points and four assists, but his potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired did not fall. Sean Obi added 11 points, doing so on 5-of-6 from the field. This Owls will likely struggle to put points on the board this season, as they are averaging just 65.5 per game against two substandard opponents. Max Guercy (13.0 ppg) is only 2-of-12 from the field, but has made a positive contribution from the foul line (21- of-26). Jackson nets 12.0 points per game, Austin Ramljak puts up 10.5 points per game, and Obi mans the paint with 9.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M has barely broken a sweat on the young season, as it is shooting a lofty 53.6 percent from the floor, and both of its victories have come by at least 24 points. Against MVSU, the Aggies drained better than 60 percent of their shots and were paced by the efforts of Kourtney Roberson, who finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Jamal Jones came off the bench to net 13 points, while Alex Caruso stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, five assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Roberson (19.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg) has acted as the go-to option in the early going and has not disappointed, making greater than 71 percent of his field goal attempts. Caruso, Jones, Jordan Green and Shawn Smith all average in double figures. The Aggies have played outstanding defense as well, forcing 24 turnovers while holding foes to just 31 percent field goal efficiency.
Rice struggles to beat low-level teams on its home floor, so heading out on the road against a strong SEC squad certainly doesn't bode well for the Owls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 85, Rice 61
11/15 10:32:50 ET