The Owls are seeking to remain unbeaten in their own backyard, boasting a perfect 3-0 mark at home thus far. Unfortunately, Rice hasn't had the same kind of success on the road, boasting a winless record at 0-3 as the visitor. Despite the lack of wins on the road, Rice has been competitive in those games, losing each by three points or less. Most recently, the Owls nearly pulled off a stunner, as they were edged by nationally-ranked Texas, 62-59, on Saturday.
Arizona, meanwhile, is coming off its first loss of the season, dropping an 87-79 decision to a highly-ranked Kansas squad in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday. The Wildcats had opened the season 5-0, winning by an average of 40.8 ppg, prior to facing their first serious test of the year. The team will now try to bounce back in its first true road game of the season.
The Wildcats and Owls met for the first-ever time on the hardwood last season, with Arizona taking a 66-49 decision.
The Wildcats hung tough with Kansas over the weekend, but 19 turnovers proved costly in an 87-79 loss. Arizona had 10 three-pointers and 15 free-throw points to keep thing interesting, but Kansas shot 54.4 percent from the floor to take the victory. Derrick Williams was once again terrific for the Wildcats, as he poured in 27 points and ripped down eight caroms. He has now led Arizona in scoring each game and is averaging 21.0 ppg and 7.3 rpg for the season. Solomon Hill ranks second with 10.7 ppg and 5.3 rpg for Arizona, which is averaging 84.2 ppg behind 50.3 percent shooting from the field.
Tamir Jackson had a chance to extend the game, but his three-point shot at the buzzer was off the mark and Texas survived for a 62-59 win on Saturday. It was a tough finish for the Owls, who shot 41.2 percent from the floor, including a 6-of-15 effort from behind the arc. Arsalan Kazemi guided Rice in defeat with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Jackson and Cory Pflieger each had 12 points. On the season, Kazemi has been the most consistent player for Rice, leading the team in scoring (14.2 ppg) as well as rebounding (11.3 rpg). Jackson has provided a nice complement to Kazemi, averaging 13.0 ppg and 2.0 apg.
Rice has done a good job of competing this season, but Arizona is simply too talented and should come out on top behind another big performance from Williams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 66, Rice 56