DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 22nd, 7 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: BHSN, CSS. Home Record: Rice 7-3, UCF 10-1. Away Record: Rice 0-5, UCF 2-2. Neutral Record: Rice 1-2, UCF 2-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-4, UCF 1-3. Series Record: UCF leads, 8-3.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls and the UCF Knights meet this evening in a Conference USA bout at UCF Arena in sunny, Orlando, Florida.
Rice has lost four straight games and subsequently, has fallen to 0-4 on C-USA play. The Owls last played on Jan. 15th, in a 66-43 loss to UTEP. They have yet to win a true road game on the year.
UCF has hit a serious wall of late. After concluding the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 13-0 mark, the Knights opened C-USA play with a win over Marshall before losing their last three contests. They now sit at 1-3 in conference play.
With regard to the all-time series, tonight's game marks the 12th meeting between Rice and UCF. The Knights currently hold an 8-3 lead over the Owls.
To call the Rice offense anemic in its loss to UTEP would be a compliment. The Owls were simply horrendous on the offensive end of the floor. Trailing by eight points at the half, they barely put up a whimper after the break, scoring just 20 points over the final 20 minutes to suffer the loss. David Chadwick was the only player to put up a fight. He came off the bench to score a team-high 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Remove Chadwick from the lineup and the Owls shot just 13-of-48 on the night. Arsalan Kazemi managed to pull down 10 boards, but went just 1-of-7 from the floor. Rice typically fares much better on the offensive end, averaging 68.4 ppg on the year. The team does not possess much scoring ability from the perimeter. The Owls make just 5.1 three- pointers per game. Clearly, their strength lies on the perimeter, where they post a plus-4.6 rebounding margin. They also allow an unforgivable 8.3 three- pointers per game. Kazemi paces the team from his position on the front line, leading the Owls in scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.2 ppg). He is aided by Tamir Jackson (12.9 ppg), who is the only other Owl to average double figures on the year.
UCF last played on Jan. 19th, in a 74-62 loss to East Carolina. The defeat marked the Knights' first home loss of the season. Though not as severely, UCF found itself in a similar position as Rice did, struggling in the second half of its most recent loss. The Knights scored just 26 points and shot just 34.6 percent from the field after the break in their loss to ECU. Isaac Sosa came off the bench to lead the team in defeat. He scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and made four of the team's nine three-pointers. Keith Clanton had a strong all-around game. He registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards and also turned away six ECU shots. Marcus Jordan added 11 points and four assists. Jordan had an off night. He leads the team at 16.2 ppg on the year and is scoring 16.8 ppg in conference play. Clanton adds bulk on the interior. He is second on the team in scoring (15.4 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.8 rpg), though he is averaging a slightly lower13.3 ppg in conference play. The Knights rode a strong defensive effort to their early season success, but have struggled to contain teams in conference play. They allow just 60.6 ppg on the year, but are giving up a whopping 73.5 ppg against C-USA foes.
Rice struggled mightily on offense in its last contest and now faces a UCF squad which has gotten away from its defensive principles. Look for the Knights to have the edge though. They should round their defense into shape against a containable Owls team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 72, Rice 64