20.2 points per game.
That is what Rice senior Tamir Jackson must average in the final 19 games that the Rice basketball team has on its schedule to finish fifth in school history for points scored.
Jackson is averaging 17.5 points a contest for the Owls in the first dozen games of the season. Rice has only won three of those games and may not win many more. The Owls are the only Conference USA team under .500 in non-conference play.
Rice plays at Harvard (7-5) Saturday before hosting Southern Mississippi (11-4) in the conference opener Wednesday.
While the team has understandably struggled after Arsalan Kazemi and five other projected returning players left the program, there have been some positive signs mixed in with the doom and gloom. Several of the encouraging signs have to do with the 6-3 senior guard from Paterson, N.J.
Jackson entered the year in 25th place on the Rice all-time scoring list. He now is 11th with 1,345 points. He has led the Owls in scoring eight times this season and 36 times in his career.
Of course, Jackson is much more than a scorer. He arguably is better known for his distribution skills. He has led Rice in assists six times this season and a whopping 57 times in his career.
Jackson is eighth on the school’s all-time assist list with 336. He would need to average 8.8 assists a game the rest of the season to become the school’s all-time assist leader. Because his scoring is needed more than ever before, Jackson likely won’t get close to the assist mark. He only has 27 this year.
Elbert Darden currently sits in fifth place for career scoring at Rice. Darden notched 1,727 points when he played from 1975 to 1979. Michael Harris is the school’s leading career scorer with 2,014 points.
Jackson is 382 points behind Darden. Despite being the focal point of opposing defenses, Jackson has scored 20 or more points five times this season, including 22 and 25 in games right before Christmas against Chicago State and TCU. He scored 12 at Texas in a closer than expected loss Saturday.
Jackson has taken between 11 and 19 field-goal attempts every game this season. What has hurt him is a 38 percent shooting percentage and he hasn’t gotten to the line much.
If he can raise that percentage north of 40, and if the coaching staff feels the team’s best chance of winning is for Jackson to get off a lot of shots, he’s got a reasonable chance of averaging 20.2 points the rest of the way.