South Alabama (5-3) at Rice (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tudor Fieldhouse (5,750) -- Houston, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: USA 5-1, Rice 1-2. Away Record: USA 0-2, Rice 2-2. Neutral Record: USA 0-0, Rice 0-1. Conference Record: USA 0-0, Rice 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls open a brief two-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the South Alabama Jaguars to Tudor Fieldhouse for a non-conference clash.
South Alabama most recently had a soft matchup with Spring Hill on its home floor on Monday night, and it easily dismissed its NAIA foe, 91-41. The Jaguars have now won three of their last four games to improve to 5-3 on the season.
The young campaign has not been as kind to Rice, which sits at just 3-5, including a mere 1-2 on its home floor. After registering a 67-66 win at Santa Clara on Nov. 30, the Owls returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday night only to drop a 73-71 decision at Houston Baptist.
The all-time series between these two teams is tied at 1-1, with Rice winning the most recent bout in November of 2009, 71-69.
The Jaguars did what was expected of them against Spring Hill earlier in the week, as they shot 50 percent from the floor and dominated the rebounding battle (55-24) en route to the 50-point victory. Leading the charge was Augustine Rubit, who shot 8-of-12 from the field for 18 points, to go with nine rebounds and two blocks. Mychal Ammons tallied 17 points and nine boards, Ken Williams added 13 points, and the duo combined to shoot 6-of-9 from 3- point range. On the season, South Alabama's offensive production has been modest at best, as it scores 73.1 points per game on less than 42 percent efficiency from the field, but it steps it up at the defensive end in allowing just 62.0 points per outing. Rubit, the Preseason Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference, is living up to the billing with averages of 16.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Ammons (9.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg) in another imposing frontcourt presence, while Williams, Barrington Stevens and Antoine Allen all net between 8.1 and 8.8 points per game.
The Owls trailed Houston Baptist for the majority of their latest contest and only managed to make it a two-point game with a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer. While they shot a respectable 44.9 percent from the field with 10 3- pointers on the night, they were ultimately done in by 13 turnovers and a 35-27 deficit on the glass. Austin Ramljak was on fire in defeat, shooting 7- of-12 (all from beyond the arc) en route to 23 points. Keith Washington provided a spark off the bench with 18 points, while Sean Obi tallied 13 points and six rebounds. Rice has underperformed across the board this season, as it sits in the red with regard to its scoring (-1.5), rebounding (-2.0) and turnover (-3.2) margins. Ramljak's active and efficient showing from long distance (29-of-62) has allowed him to ascend to the top of the leaderboard in scoring with 13.3 points per game. Max Guercy (11.1 ppg) and Obi (11. ppg) are also solid options, with the latter also hauling in a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game.
Rice hasn't impressed this season, but the silver lining is that four of its five losses have come by a total of 10 points. The Owls should be able to keep this one close, but in the end the Jaguars' advantage in the frontcourt will be too much for the home team to overcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 74, Rice 70
12/07 10:37:11 ET