Rice basketball preview: Rice @ Princeton
CUSA-fans.com has a new staff of team correspondents this season to help bring you, the fan, more detailed Conference USA sports coverage. Today, our new Rice Correspondent Bob Schlanger previews the basketball game between Rice and Princeton.
Saturday, January 6
2:00 p.m. (EST)
Jadwin Gym (6,854)
Owls must play disciplined defense against Tigers’ methodical style
The Rice Owls (6-6) travel to New Jersey to complete their non-conference season against the Princeton Tigers who enter the game with an 8-4 record.
Princeton has built its program on deliberate play and sturdy defense and the 2006-2007 season has been consistent with that philosophy. In Princeton’s last nine games they have held opponents to an average of 47 points per game and have given up an average of 51 points per game all season. Princeton has won three out of four home games, including a 61-45 win over C-USA’s Marshall last month.
Rice enters the game playing consistently inconsistent basketball. Morris Almond, the nation’s leading scorer, tallied a career high 44 points in Tuesday’s loss to SEC foe Vanderbilt at Autry Court. The lack of scoring from Almond’s teammates has been one of the factors that have prevented Rice from consistently winning games on the road. The Owls will have to play a complete forty minutes and receive some offensive production from players other than Almond if the Owls hope to finish the non-conference portion of their schedule on a winning note.
Expect a deliberate offensive attack from the Tigers who are led in scoring by Kyle Koncz (11.5 ppg), Justin Conway (8.5 ppg) and Luke Owings (8.2 ppg). The Owls should see an aggressive man-to-man defense from the Tigers; however, a zone or a combo defense is likely if the Owls don’t receive balanced production to start the game. If Almond can create enough shots and get to the free throw line often enough or if other Owls can step up offensively, the game should be a close one.
LAST TIME OUT : Rice dropped a game at Autry Court to SEC foe Vanderbilt by a score of 74-69. The Owls failed to score for the first eight minutes of the game and the 18-0 Commodore lead proved too much for the Owls to overcome. Rice was able to cut the lead to three at 72-69 with less than a minute left in the game, but Vandy held on for the win. Morris Almond scored 27 of his career high 44 points in the second half but it wasn’t enough to overcome the lead. Vandy was held without a field goal over the final 9:18 of the game, but used solid free throw shooting to preserve their lead and pull out the victory.
NEXT UP : After Saturday’s final non-conference game, the Owls return to Autry Court to host Tulane in the conference opener on January 10 th. The Owls travel to North Carolina to face East Carolina on January 13 th as the conference season continues.