Men's basketball perseveres
The Rice men's basketball team, after fading late against the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns in a 57-41 defeat Dec. 29, traveled northeast last Saturday to play Harvard University in Rice's final game before opening its Conference USA schedule on Wednesday. But from the outset, the Owls (3-11) had no answer for their hot-shooting hosts as the Crimson (8-5) jumped out to a 43-21 halftime lead on 63 percent shooting from the field. Harvard hit as many 3-pointers in the first half as Rice had total baskets and Rice fell behind early in spite of a career-high 19 points from freshman guard Max Guercy, who was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week for his efforts. The Owls lost 92-62, falling to 3-10 in their most lopsided defeat of the season.
The team shifted its focus to Conference USA foes on Wednesday night, hosting the University of Southern Mississippi in the 2012-13 league opener at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Golden Eagles (11-4) entered the game coming off of a record-setting performance against Dillard University in their non-conference finale. Southern Miss defeated the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics foe 135-41, setting Conference USA records for points, field goals made (51), assists (40) and steals (27) in a single game. And just four days removed from its headline-grabbing win, Southern Miss overmatched Rice with its superior size and athleticism, as the Owls fell 75-52. The Owls shot just 28 percent from the field in the first half and struggled to hit shots against their opponent's 2-3 defensive zone. Rice improved its offensive effort in the second half, but Southern Miss utilized its height advantage to get easy looks in the post throughout the game. The Golden Eagles outscored Rice 46-20 in the paint, shooting nearly 70 percent from the field for the game.
"We've got to show more resistance on the defensive end," Braun said. "I thought our interior defense was poor. It wasn't the outside shot that was hurting us. It was getting the ball to the rim. We've got to show some resistance in there."
Senior guard Tamir Jackson led the Owls with 13 points and six rebounds in the losing effort.
Entering Wednesday's games, Jackson ranked fifth in the league with 17.2 points per game and 11th in the conference at nearly seven rebounds per game.
The Owls will play their second conference game of the season tomorrow evening in Oklahoma, where they will try to take down the University of Tulsa for the first time since 2005. The Golden Hurricane (9-7) has eliminated Braun's team in three of the past four conference tournaments, a streak the Owls will look to avenge with a win on the road tomorrow. Tulsa lost at Marshall University on Wednesday night to bring their league record to 1-1 after they escaped with a 48-47 win at Southern Methodist University last Saturday. Rice will be back at Tudor Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to take on the league favorites, a University of Memphis team the Owls defeated in their last trip to Houston back in 2011.
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