Men's Basketball has an off day against SMU
Less than two weeks removed from an outing in which the Rice men's basketball team scored 54 points in a single half, the Owls (519, 1-9) were unable to match such offensive output in a frustrating conference defeat. Hosting the Southern Methodist University Mustangs (13-12, 3-7) last Saturday, Rice had its worst shooting day of the season in a 61-39 defeat at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls came out with a game plan to attack offensively from the perimeter, converting on four out of 13 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the first half. But Rice simply could not produce any offense from inside the arc, scoring just two points in the paint over the first 20 minutes against SMU. Led by legendary NCAA and NBA Head Coach Larry Brown, the Mustangs took a 26-17 lead at the half. Sophomore guard Julian DeBose and senior guard Tamir Jackson each reached double digits in scoring for Rice, but the Owls struggled all day from the field and were unable to bring the deficit within single digits in the second half. The team shot just 19.6 percent (10 for 51) from the field for the game, falling at home on an offense-deprived evening.
Head Coach Ben Braun's squad was much more competitive on the road Wednesday when it traveled to take on Marshall University (11-14, 4-6) for another league tilt. The Owls and Thundering Herd played to a 33-33 tie at halftime, and Jackson and junior guard Austin Ramljak combined for 22 points in the first half. Rice took the lead late in an incredibly close second half when freshman forward Ross Wilson's layup with 3:53 remaining made it a 61-60 game. But after Marshall scored four straight points from the line, Jackson was forced out of the game with an eye injury in the closing minutes. Freshman guard Keith Washington entered the game and scored layups on back-to-back possessions, but Marshall responded with a corner 3 and iced the game with free throws while Jackson made his way back into the game. The resilient Owls, shorthanded with sophomore forward Seth Gearhart out due to injury, battled all night on the road but fell by a one-point margin 71-70 for their fourth straight loss.
Milestone Watch: Amid what has been a tumultuous senior season, Jackson continues to put his finishing touches on what has simply been one of the best careers in the history of the men's basketball program. Jackson became just the ninth player in program history to surpass the 1,500-point mark Saturday and currently stands eighth on the career scoring list after going for 16 at Marshall. Jackson also now ranks fourth all time in career assists and fifth in career steals after this week's games. With six regular season games left, Jackson has the opportunity to finish at least second all time in games played in a career, depending on how far the Owls can advance in the Conference USA tournament. Lastly, Jackson currently stands second all time in minutes played and is on pace to pass Dana Hardy ('89'92) for the career record, 3,397 minutes, if he stays healthy for the rest of the season.
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