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Men's basketball defeats North Texas

By Dan Elledge     2/10/14 6:00pm

The Rice University men's basketball team showed some positive results at Tudor Fieldhouse over the weekend with a 75-70 win against the University of North Texas on Thursday, Feb. 6. Rice missed its chance to complete the sweep at home, falling 66-56 to the University Tulsa on Saturday, Feb. 8. Rice is now 7-16 overall with a 2-8 record in Conference USA. The Owls only have one game this week, heading on the road to play at Louisiana Tech University on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Ruston, La.

Head Coach Ben Braun said the Owls played their best half of the season against the Mean Green. He was appreciative of their effort both offensively and defensively. He said this consistency is needed the rest of the season in order to pile up more wins.

"It was a great win for our team," Braun said. "We got off to a great start, one of the best starts for the season both offensively and defensively .... Our team carried us through and made some big plays in the second half. [Freshman forward Sean Obi] brought us energy off of the bench. It was a good team effort for our team to play against North Texas and get the win."

With only one game this week, Rice is focusing on its conditioning in practice. Braun said it is important to be fit for the entire 40 minutes since games can come down to the last few possessions and learning to make free throws at the end is crucial for success.

"Conditioning is important," Braun said. "Most of the time, you are shooting free throws when you are tired. That's going to be our challenge. [We need to] keep our guys conditioned when competing. We want to throw some adversity during practice so they have that feeling of playing through fatigue in crunch time."

Sophomore guard Max Guercy said the team needs to make sure their bodies are in the best shape at this point in the season. Guercy said it is important for the players to get enough rest.

"We obviously have to stay in shape," Guercy said. "We know with this part of the season we need to rest and take care of our bodies."

Louisiana Tech is near the top of the C-USA standings, with a 20-5 overall record and a 8-2 record in C-USA play. Guercy said the team has to translate their positive results at home to the hostile road environment. If the team can hit on all cylinders, it can put out an upset, Guercy said.

"I think we have to stay focused," Guercy said. "We are doing a good job at home. With the crowd, it helps. For [Louisiana Tech] this weekend, they are obviously a great team and one of the best in the conference. We need to do what we did here and transition to [Louisiana Tech] on Saturday."

Braun said the game against Louisiana Tech will be a difficult matchup. He said the Owls have to be ready for their aggressive style of play and their loud, home crowd. If the players can handle that, a win is not out of the question, Braun said.

"[Louisiana Tech] is going to be a challenge for us especially at their place," Braun said. "They play outstanding basketball at home. They will pressure and are athletic. We will see how the year plays out, but they could be the top team in our league. It's going to be a [major] challenge for our team."

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