Memphis (12-3) at Rice (3-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tudor Fieldhouse (5,750) -- Houston, Texas. Television: CSS. Home Record: Memphis 9-1, Rice 3-5. Away Record: Memphis 2-0, Rice 0-4. Neutral Record: Memphis 1-2, Rice 0-3. Conference Record: Memphis 2-0, Rice 0-2. Series Record: Memphis leads, 8-1.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls look to pull off a huge upset as they host the Memphis Tigers at the Tudor Fieldhouse in Conference USA action on Wednesday.
Josh Pastner's Tigers are clearly at the head of the class in the C-USA once again as they coasted to a 69-53 win over UAB on Saturday for their sixth consecutive victory. Memphis enters 12-3 overall including a 2-0 mark in both league and away games. All three losses have come to tough opponents in Virginia Commonwealth, Minnesota, and Louisville. The team's success is not hard to believe considering it returned four starters from last season's NCAA Tournament team that swept the C-USA Championships.
The Owls will struggle stopping the Tigers' deep array of talent as they come in with a mediocre scoring defense mark of 67.9 ppg. Coach Ben Braun's team is just 3-12 overall due to its current five-game losing slide that was extended with a 64-51 loss to Tulsa on Saturday. Rice is winless in its two C-USA outings and just 3-5 at home. Senior guard Tamir Jackson has been the lone bright spot as he leads the team with 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Rice has managed to knock off the Tigers just once in nine tries. Besides the Owls' 67-52 decision over Memphis in the 2010-11 season, the Tigers have held a clear advantage in the head-to-heads including their 73-51 victory in the most recent encounter.
Memphis showed its explosiveness versus UAB by producing a 15-3 run in the opening half to build a sizeable 14-point at the intermission. Adonis Thomas tallied 19 points while Joe Jackson contributed 17 points and five assists. Tarik Black also had a big-time performance as he notched his first double- double of the season with 10 points and 13 boards. The Tigers shot 49 percent from the field despite a 1-of-12 clip from 3-point range and they managed to hold UAB to 18-of-57 shooting from the field (31.6 percent) including zero makes on 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Jackson is spearheading the charge with 14 points and 4.5 assists per outing while Thomas (11.0 ppg), Black (10.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg), and Geron Johnson (10.1 ppg, 1.8 spg) all play vital roles. Freshman forward Shaq Goodwin also makes a big impact due to the tremendous inside presence he provides.
Rice was neck and neck with the Golden Hurricane last time out, as Max Guercy put in a layup with just under five minutes left to play to even the score at 51. However, the Owls committed four turnovers and went 0-of-4 from the field the rest of the way to suffer a 13-point defeat. Jackson led the team with 14 points, five assists, and five rebounds while the other four starters went 9- of-27 from the field. The only reserve to attempt more than one shot was Keith Washington, but his 1-of-8 clip was not exactly helpful.
It appears that Jackson will have very little support the rest of the way. While the senior guard is a decent player, he is not going to be able to defeat Memphis on his own. The Tigers should coast past Rice to build up even more momentum for their non-conference closer versus Harvard this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 81, Rice 60
01/16 10:47:03 ET