GAME NOTES: The struggling Rice Owls stroll down to the Big Easy to take on the Tulane Green Wave, in a Conference USA matchup at Devlin Fieldhouse.
On Thursday night in Hattiesburg, Rice was throttled by Southern Miss, 84-62. The Owls have struggled since mid December, dropping their last six decisions.
Tulane also had a rough night on Thursday as it was blown out at home by Louisiana Tech, 73-45. The Green Wave have alternated wins and losses over the last six games.
These teams first met each other nearly a century ago, and the Green Wave lead the all-time series, 26-24. Tulane has won 10 of the last 13 meetings between the clubs, including both matchups last season.
In the loss to Southern Miss, Max Guercy led the Owls with 15 points. Austin Ramljak added 14 and Sean Obi had five boards. After leading 34-28 at the break, the Golden Eagles put the game away in the second, draining 58.6 percent of their field goal tries, including 9-of-13 from 3-point range and used a 14-3 run to close out the game. Southern Miss dominated the glass, holding a 43-20 rebounding advantage, and logged 18 free-throw attempts to Rice's two.
Ramljak is the leading scorer for the Owls, scoring 12.7 ppg. The senior guard ranks in the top-seven in C-USA in both 3-pointers made per game (56) and 3- point field goal percentage (.424). Obi leads all freshmen in the league in double-doubles with five, and he is averaging 11.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg (third-best in the conference) this season. Guercy fills the stat sheet with 10.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 3.8 apg. Rice ranks next-to-last in the league in offensive production, averaging just 65.7 ppg. The Owls are in the middle of the pack with regard to defensive effort, as they yield only 70.2 ppg.
Louis Dabney paced the Green Wave with 11 points in the recent loss to Louisiana Tech, while Tre Drye brought down seven rebounds and Kevin Thomas had four blocks. The Green Wave trailed 31-18 at the half after shooting just 22.7 percent from the field. For the game, Tulane was outscored in the paint, 28-18, and dominated on the boards, 53-37. The Green Wave went 0-of-14 from 3- point distance in the contest.
Despite its winning record, Tulane has been out-produced by its opponents this season, as it shoots just 41.6 percent from the field for 67.3 ppg while allowing 73.1 ppg on 45.7 percent shooting. Where it lacks in field goal efficiency it is able to make up for at the free-throw line, as it shoots 72.7 percent from the stripe and has drained 110 more free throws than its opponents. Dabney leads the way with 17.8 ppg, while Jonathan Stark (16.2 ppg) and Jay Hook (14.3 ppg) are both outstanding from beyond the arc, as the duo has combined for 60 3-pointers at greater than a 43-percent clip.
Although they have some talent under the basket, Rice faces an outside threat with the long-range bombers that Tulane has in its arsenal. Expect the Green Wave to get back on track as they hand the Owls another loss.
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