Capsule look at Thursday's UTSA-Rice game

CaptionCloseUTSA (11-14, 6-6) @ Rice (17-8, 7-5)Site – Tudor Fieldhouse, Houston.Time – 7 p.m. Thursday.Radio/TV – KTKR (760).Sagarin ratings – UTSA 284, Rice 133.Point spread – Rice favored by 14.Series - Rice 6-4, including...

Capsule look at Thursday's UTSA-Rice game



UTSA (11-14, 6-6) @ Rice (17-8, 7-5)

Site – Tudor Fieldhouse, Houston.

Time – 7 p.m. Thursday.

Radio/TV – KTKR (760).

Sagarin ratings – UTSA 284, Rice 133.

Point spread – Rice favored by 14.

Series - Rice 6-4, including three of the five games played in Houston.

UTSA projected starting lineup –F Jeff Beverly 6-6 jr. (16.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), C Lucas O’Brien (6.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), G Giovanni DeNicolao 6-3, fr. (8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.1 apg), G Gino Littles 6-0 jr. (6.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.4 apg), G Byron Frohnen 6-5 fr. (8.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

Rice projected starting lineup – F Egor Koulechov 6-5 jr. (18.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg), F Marquez Letcher-Ellis 6-7 soph. (7.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Marcus Evans 6-2 soph. (19.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.3 apg), G Connor Cashaw 6-5 soph. (8.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), G Marcus Jackson 6-3 jr. (12.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg).

UTSA factoids - The Roadrunners have lost five of their last seven after a 72-66 home loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday … Saturday’s game marks the beginning of a four-game road trip before two home games to finish the season against Charlotte on March 2 and Old Dominion on March 4 before the start of the Conference USA tournament … UTSA played well for most of the game against Louisiana Tech, but against struggled shooting from the field (38.3 percent) and stopping LT (46.0 percent from field). It was the highest by an opponent since UTSA allowed Western Kentucky to shoot 54.7 percent on Jan. 28 … The Roadrunners have shot less than 40 percent from the field in seven of their last eight games and shot a combined 37.0 field-goal percentage during that slump … Lucan O’Brien drained five 3-pointers against Louisiana Tech, second-highest in a game this season by a UTSA player behind only Nick Billingsley’s six threes against Southeastern Oklahoma State.

Rice factoids - The Owls have won four straight and five of their last six after notching an 81-75 overtime victory over FAU on Saturday … Rice’s high-tempo offense ranks second in Conference USA with an average of 82.2 points per game … The Owls are second in the conference in field goal percentage (47.5) and lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage (40.0) … In the Owls’ 17 victories, they are defeating opponents by an average of 14.2 points per game. But in their eight losses, all have been 10 points or less … Marcus Evans is averaging 24.0 points over his last four games, leading to his selection as Conference USA Player of the Week this week after 27.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in victories over FIU and FAU last week … Evans and Egor Koulechov are both averaging at least 18 points per game. Rice is one of six teams with a duo after at least 18 points a game, joining Davidson, Central Michigan, Eastern Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Bonaventure. Koulechov and Evans are also the nation’s seventh highest scoring duo in the nation.

They said it:

UTSA coach Steve Henson on Rice’s varied offense: “At times, they are as fun to watch as anybody in our league. Rice can run really, really good offensive possessions from a purist’s standpoint. They can move it, they have guys who can make plays, they shoot it. They have some really good looking possessions.

UTSA coach Steve Henson on the challenge of guarding Koulechov: “We have to chase him around because he’s just like another guard because of his agility and some of his advantages against some of those teams is he’s really a small forward playing a facing four. He’s a matchup challenge for our defense.”

UTSA guard Gino Littles on the challenge of playing Rice’s up-tempo offense: “It’s a huge challenge. I like how they play. They get up and down the court and they shoot quick threes. They have great players and we have to bring it to them.”

UTSA guard Gino Littles on UTSA’s road struggles this season: “We think we can go on the road and get a win. We don’t want to go on the road thinking we haven’t won one the road recently. We’re going to go in there with the mindset we can beat them, but they definitely are a good team.”

Twitter: @TimGriffinBig12

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