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Rice shots off target in loss to Texas Longhorns

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Rice shot less than 30 percent from the field and scored a season low 44 points in a loss at Texas Monday.

The Longhorns (11-2) took control of the game with a 24-8 run to close out the first half. Texas didn’t allow its old Southwest Conference foe back in the game in the second half. The lead ballooned to 26 before Texas won 66-44.

“We had a tough shooting day, hopefully we will not have a lot of days like that,“ said Rice coach Ben Braun at the post-game news conference. “I give Texas credit; they got out on our shooters well.”

Rice (5-7) has now lost two straight games and next faces the only opponent on its schedule who made last year’s NCAA Tournament. Harvard (11-1) meets the Owls at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tudor Fieldhouse.

While both institutes of higher education are focused on football bowl games in the next 24 hours, the Texas and Rice basketball teams renewed their rivalry in front of about 4,500 fans during a matinee at the Erwin Center in Austin.

Texas scored the game’s first five points before Keith Washington got Rice on the board with a jumper. Washington later tied the game at 8 with a 3-pointer. Austin Ramljak hit another 3-pointer for Rice with 11:13 left in the opening half. The Owls fired up 12 more shots beyond the arc in the opening half, but none of them made it into the basket.

Jonathan Holmes scored the next five points for Texas as the Longhorns began the 24-8 spurt. A Connor Lammert layup pushed the lead to double digits. Lammert closed the half with a layup to put Texas up 37-19.

“We did not want to give up transition baskets, I thought early in the game we did that,” Braun said. “We wanted to knock some shots down early. We did not want to allow them to get into the 80-90s, which they can do. In the close good games against Texas over the years, that plan as worked. Tonight, they did not score a lot of big baskets, but they did score in the paint. We turned over a couple of times, which was not in the game plan. Out 20 shooting percentage was not in the plan either.”

The 29.1 percent Rice shot from the field was well below the 41 percent the team averages. Rice averages 33 percent on 3-pointers, but made just 21 percent on Monday.

“They’re a really good shooting team,” Holmes said. “We knew that coming in, so we tried to run them off the line. I think that by doing that, our help defense was really good. They had trouble scoring over us.”

Holmes led Texas with 15 points while Cameron Ridley added 14, including 6 for 7 from the line.

“Cameron Ridley was the difference in the game today,” Braun said. “He worked for position inside when they needed to go to the basket. He has really improved from a year ago.”

Ridley’s 6 for 7 at the charity stripe was the exact same free throw total for Rice as a team. Texas got to the line 20 more times than the Owls.

Texas also outrebounded Rice, 42-29. It marked the sixth time this season that the Horns posted a double-digit rebound advantage.

Sean Obi recorded a team high 10 points and 12 boards for Rice. Nazir Kapic has a decent game off the bench with 7 points. Washington also finished with 7.

Texas has won 16 of the past 17 games in the series.

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