Are the Owls making a late run at the NCAA Tournament?
Following back to back wins in Conference USA play over UTEP and Tulane, the Owls have improved to 13-10 on the season with a 4-4 CUSA record. The Owls have been an up and down team all season after a hot 7-2 start. Following the great start, Rice dropped eight of their next 12 games and looked out of sorts.
They are back on track it seems with consecutive wins that have moved them to 6th place in CUSA and a game ahead of rival Houston who sits at 11-10 on the season with a 3-5 CUSA play.
Rice finishes the season with five of eight games away from Tudor Fieldhouse with two games still left against struggling rival Houston. Rice is coming off a huge 77-75 win against UTEP at home led by 20-point games from forward Arsalan Kazemi and Jarelle Reischel with Omar Oraby chipping in with 11 points and four blocks off the bench.
The Owls will need Kazemi and guard Tamir Jackson (0 points vs. UTEP) to anchor this team as the calendar flips into February. Jackson will need to contribute and put up numbers near his 11.4 points per game average. Kazemi has been great all season averaging a double-double with 13.1 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game. Kazemi had struggled in his previous three games before his 20 points and nine rebound game against UTEP.
In his previous three games before UTEP in which he played, Kazemi managed to score only 18 points. Kazemi has averaged double figures in scoring in each of his three seasons at Rice.
Rice next tips off on the road against CUSA bottom feeder East Carolina (11-10, 2-6 CUSA) on Feb.4. ECU is coming off an impressive 62-43 win vs. SMU. The Pirates have also won back to back games.