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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Rice 4-6, UCF 9-3. Away Record: Rice 0-4, UCF 3-2. Neutral Record: Rice 0-3, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-3, UCF 2-1. Series Record: UCF leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls are riding a little bit of momentum into their Conference USA bout against the Knights at UCF Arena on Wednesday.
UCF owns an 8-5 all-time series lead versus Rice, including a 3-2 mark in Orlando.
Ben Braun's Owls snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday with a 95-71 rout of New Orleans at home. The victory lifted Rice to a 4-13 overall record, but it is still 0-3 in league action and winless after four true road tests. The team's lack of winning stems from its inefficiency on the offensive end, where it ranks last in the C-USA with just 59.2 ppg. The Owls are not much better defensively are their allowed average of 68.2 ppg is the eighth best mark in the 12-team league.
Senior guard Tamir Jackson continued to lead Rice over the weekend by going 11-of-16 from the floor for a game-high 24 points. Jackson, who paces the squad with 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing, cracked the program's top 10 list for career points with his effort. Julian DeBose also had a productive outing versus the Privateers, netting a career-high 20 points to lift his season average to 9.9 ppg. The Owls will look to continue their accurate play from beyond the arc after draining a season-best 12 3-pointers and hitting 61.3 percent of their field goals to close out their non-conference slate.
UCF also has something to build on after overcoming a double-digit deficit to outlast Houston for a 79-75 overtime decision on Saturday. The win was the third in four games for Donnie Jones and his Knights, who are 9-3 at home and 2-1 in the C-USA standings. Senior forward Keith Clanton leads the team and Conference USA with 17.9 points per game. His 9.6 rebounding average is the third best in the league. Sykes adds 14.9 points per game to the mix, but UCF is not eligible for post-season action due to NCAA sanctions.
The Knights are in the middle of the road in the C-USA in both scoring offense (71.8) and scoring defense (64.8). They have managed to knock off some notable programs in South Florida, Belmont, and UAB this season despite having a conference worst -3.12 turnover margin. Isaiah Sykes stood out over the weekend as he tallied 22 points and nine rebounds and sank a pair of free throws to force overtime. Clanton contributed 19 points and eight boards while UCF hit 50 percent of its field-goal attempts.
The Owls' recent victory over UNO gave them some much needed confidence, but they still will be overmatched in the majority of their conference tilts this season. Rice has managed to rope in a few standout players in Morris Almond, Arsalan Kazemi, and Jackson over the past decade, but none have been able to make the program into a C-USA contender. The Knights should continue to provide blemishes on their foes' league records while playing for nothing but pride.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 71, Rice 55
01/23 10:34:53 ET
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