MBB routed by UAB in second round of C-USA tourney
Courtesy Conference USA
In the second round of the Conference USA tournament, the Rice men’s basketball team fell short against the University of Alabama at Birmingham by a final score of 87-60. According to head coach Scott Pera, the Blazers were able to force the Owls into mistakes throughout the game.
“They sped us up,” Pera said. “We were uncharacteristically sped up.”
With 21 turnovers compared to UAB’s 10, Rice struggled to take care of the ball. UAB’s stifling full court press left the Owls uncomfortable throughout the game, and the Owls frequently tossed the ball right into the outstretched arms of nearby Blazer defenders.
The Owls were close at times, even leading the Blazers in the first half. Junior guard Travis Evee was hot from three-point-land in the early minutes, ending the game with 20 points and a shooting percentage of over 63%. The Owls had a chance to enter the second half tied, until the last 57 seconds, in which UAB had a massive 8-0 run to bring their lead to 10. According to Pera, the Owls could never really recover after this.
“That was the game,” Pera said. “That was it.”
UAB rallied behind their leading scorer Jordan “Jelly” Walker, who scored 27 points on an efficient 54% night. His three-point shot was tough to guard, as he drained seven shots from beyond the arc. Walker was the No. 3 highest scorer in the nation this year, and his talent was on full display in this battle.
Besides Evee, junior forward Max Fiedler was the only Owl in double figures, with 14 points on an efficient five-of-six, paired with 5 assists. On the defensive end, he was tasked with 6’11” center Trey Jemison, who grabbed ten rebounds and scored 12 points just about all from the paint.
The loss brought the Owls’ record to 18-15 on the year, the highest win total of Pera’s tenure. They will look to improve on that next year with nearly every player eligible to return. In the meantime, the team was selected to play in the College Basketball Invitational, where they’ll face Duquesne University in the first round on Sunday. The game tips off at 12 p.m.
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