Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Sports


S-M-U (11-13) at Rice (14-11)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 8:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Tudor Fieldhouse (5,600) -- Houston, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: SMU 7-4, Rice 9-5. Away Record: SMU 3-6, Rice 5-4. Neutral Record: SMU 1-3, Rice 0-2. Conference Record: SMU 2-7, Rice 5-5. Series Record: SMU leads, 118-76.

GAME NOTES: A pair of long-standing Conference-USA foes meet on the hardwood tonight in Houston, as the Rice Owls play host to the SMU Mustangs at Tudor Fieldhouse.

SMU snapped a five-game skid with a hard-fought 68-62 triumph over TCU on Wednesday night. Still, the Mustangs have just three wins scattered throughout their last 10 games, falling to 11-13 overall this season in the process. The meeting with TCU gave SMU just the second win to its conference slate this season.

As for Rice, the Owls rebounded from a tough 82-68 setback at East Carolina last Saturday with a 79-71 victory at Houston on Wednesday night. The verdict gave the Owls three victories in their last five outings, and improved the club's overall 2011-12 tally to 14-11. Rice also owns an even 5-5 mark in C-USA action.

SMU leads, 118-76, in the all-time series between the two rivals.

The Mustangs got a game-high 17 points from Robert Nyakundi in their six-point win over TCU, a contest during which SMU shot at a 52.1 percent clip. The club buried 11-of-24 from beyond the arc as well during the meeting, and won the battle of the boards by a 30-24 margin. The Mustangs were guilty of a game- high 17 turnovers, but the squad rallied late and held on after earning a 61-59 lead with just over to minutes left to play. London Giles added 14 points in the victory, while Jeremia Samarrippas and Aliaksei Patsevich chipped in 10 points apiece. The Mustangs have kept the opposition in check to the tune of 60.8 points per game this season, but have also netted an underwhelming 61.6 ppg themselves. SMU is shooting just 43.1 percent from the floor as a team this year, but have had moderate success from both long range (34.6 percent), as well as at the foul line (68.4 percent). Nyakundi paces the squad in both scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.1 rpg), while Giles has been responsible for a 10.7 ppg contribution.

The Owls shot 50.0 percent from the field during their victory at Houston, a mark that included a 9-of-19 performance from three-point range. The Owls added a 10-for-14 effort at the foul line as well, and forced a game-high 11 turnovers while being guilty of just seven giveaways themselves. Jarelle Reischel scored 16 points to lead the way for Rice, while Tamir Jackson and Connor Frizzelle tallied 13 points apiece. Dylan Ennis got into the mix as well, finishing with 10 points and passing out six assists. Rice averages a healthy 71.4 ppg this season while yielding just 66.8 ppg to its adversaries, and is hitting 44.8 percent from the floor as a team. The Owls own a modest 37.1-to-34.9 rpg advantage over the opposition as well, in addition to forcing an average of 14.0 turnovers per contest to go with an impressive 4.9 blocks. Kazemi leads Rice in both scoring (12.6 ppg) as well as on the glass (10.8 rpg) this season, and he is joined in double figures by Jackson, who owns an 11.2 ppg tally. Frizzelle stands at the cusp of a double-digit scoring average as well, chipping in 9.7 ppg.

Go with the Owls here, who should have little difficulty dispatching of an SMU squad in the midst of a downward spiral, especially at home. Rice has a real size advantage that will come into play at both ends of the court.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 73, SMU 65

02/11 10:49:29 ET