Hoping to build momentum following a signature win over Houston, the Rice Owls have suffered three straight double-digit losses.
The 39 points scored by Rice set a new SMU record for fewest points allowed in a C-USA contest. Rice contributed to the record with poor marksmanship. The Owls hoisted 51 shots, making just 10 of them. The shooting percentage from beyond the arc also was ugly (6 of 24).
“It was a tough day from the perimeter, and even when we got to the rim we had a tough time getting shots to fall,“ Rice coach Ben Braun said after the game. “We’ve been shooting free throws well lately, but we have to get to the line more often and make that a priority. We struggled some against their zone, so that’s something we will go back and work on.”
Despite a 2-for-16 shooting night, Rice senior Tamir Jackson did experience a couple of memorable moments. A free throw in the second half gave Jackson 1,500 career point. Only 8 players in school history have score that many points.
The Paterson, N.J. native also received some post-game words of encouragement from the legendary Larry Brown, the only coach to win a college and NBA basketball title.
“Feel honored Larry Brown said I was a great player,” Jackson tweeted. “I just have to keep grinding and stay positive and keep my faith in God.”
Brown’s first year guiding SMU (13-12, 3-7) has been a challenge though Saturday’s performance ranks as one of the Mustangs best. SMU won the rebounding battle 40-30 and had eight blocks compared to two for Rice. The 22-point margin of victory tied for the second highest Conference USA win margin in school history
Houston native Ryan Manuel (Fort Bend Austin High School) led the Mustangs with 16 points. Julian DeBose topped the Owls with 14 points. Jackson finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Seth Gearhart missed his third straight game with a foot injury.
After the 79-69 win over Houston to close January, the Owls are 0-3 in February. Rice lost to East Carolina 79-63 Feb. 2 and fell at UTEP 65-53 Wednesday.
Rice will travel to West Virginia midweek to face Marshall (10-14, 3-6). Tipoff is 6 p.m. CST on Wednesday. Rice is 0-7 on the road this season.