Familiar Foes, Rice and North Texas, Battling As C-USA Rivals
Last Three Meetings With Owls Decided By Seven Points
North Texas (11-10, 2-5 C-USA) at Rice (6-15, 1-7 C-USA)
HOUSTON - North Texas and Rice have played three times since 2006, and each time has been a slugfest. Seven points separated the Mean Green and the Owls in those three meetings combined, and Thursday's showdown at Tudor Fieldhouse figures to be just as tight.
In 2006, Rice's Morris Almond, who went 25th in the 2007 NBA Draft to Utah, dropped 38 points (15-of-29) and 12 rebounds, but NT still prevailed, 71-69. Three years later, Dominique Johnson led NT to a 64-62 win thanks to 15 points. The 2010 matchup saw 26 points from Tristan Thompson and 16 boards from George Odufuwa led NT to a 68-65 win in Denton.
This year's Owls squad is dangerous thanks to their prowess from beyond the arc and their ball-sharing. Only Louisiana Tech has attempted more 3-pointers than Rice's 540, and their 8.6 3-pointers made per game leads C-USA.
The Owls also rank 3rd in the league with 14.2 assists. Austin Ramljak is the key from 3-point with 3.2 makes per game, which ranks 2nd in C-USA.
The battle in the paint will be a key since Rice fields the top rebounder in C-USA in Sean Obi. The 6-9 freshman is averaging 9.7 boards per game, and is also 2nd in the league with a field goal percentage of 60.0. Interestingly, despite fielding the top rebounder in the league, Rice is last in C-USA with a -3.9 rebounding margin.
North Texas will counter with salty perimeter play of its own, and one of the league's top scorers in Jordan Williams.
The 3-pointer isn't a huge part of the Mean Green gameplan (316th in the NCAA in 3-point attempts), but NT knocked down eight 3-pointers on Saturday at Tulsa and has been on fire of late. North Texas is 27-of-64 (42.2 percent) from deep over the last four games.
Williams moved up to fourth in C-USA with 16.6 points per game in conference play. The junior scored 21 points at Tulsa on Saturday, which moved his career total to 926 points - 27th in North Texas history.