Lone Star State showdown pits Owls against Longhorns

Dec 29, 2014 - 3:29 PM Austin, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Having recently suffered their second loss of the season, the Texas Longhorns will try to get back on track when they entertain the Rice Owls on Monday.

Rice has had a rough time of it in the first six weeks of the 2014-15 campaign, the team dropping more than twice as many games as it has won (3-7). The Owls recently had a modest two-game win streak stopped in a 79-72 overtime loss at Lamar on Dec. 22, and they've been idle since. The team's three victories have come against questionable competition in Prairie View (68-64), St. Edward's (54-49) and St. Thomas (72-61), all at home. Rice will tip off Conference USA play on Jan. 2 against visiting Texas-San Antonio.

Texas had been cruising along at 10-1 before hosting Stanford two days before Christmas. That game resulted in a 74-71 overtime loss, snapping what had been a three-game win streak for the Longhorns. The loss to the Cardinal marked the first home non-conference loss to an unranked team for UT since falling to Wisconsin on Dec. 29, 2007. Texas will open Big 12 Conference action next when it visits Texas Tech on Saturday.

Texas has dominated the series with Rice, 137-59, and the 'Horns have won nine straight meetings, including a 66-44 decision in Austin last season.

Max Guercy and Marcus Jackson scored 19 points apiece, Bishop Mency added 17 and Seth Gearhart 15 to go with eight rebounds, but those efforts went to waste as Rice fell in overtime to Lamar the last time out. Jackson drained five 3-pointers, helping the Owls go 11-of-28 from distance in the game. Unfortunately, they committed 21 turnovers while allowing the Cardinals to knock down 10 treys and claim a 27-17 edge in points at the foul line.

Gearhart (14.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Jackson (12.0 ppg) are the only two players averaging double figures for a team that is putting up only 63.9 ppg in hitting 39 percent of its field goal attempts. Mency (9.4 ppg) is close to joining the ranks, but the Owls needs to do a better job taking care of the basketball as they are guilty of 14.3 turnovers per outing. Rice has actually played pretty well on defense, yielding 66.5 ppg despite the opposition draining 38.5 percent of its 3-point attempts.

Javan Felix scored 19 points, while Jonathan Holmes and Kendal Yancy tallied 14 apiece, but Texas still lost to visiting Stanford last week. The Cardinal became the first UT opponent this season to score more than 70 points and shoot better than 40 percent from the floor (.433). The game featured 19 lead changes, 17 of which took place in the second half. Overall, the 'Horns connected on 44.6 percent of their total shots, which included six 3-pointers, while Stanford drained eight treys and committed only six turnovers. The UT bench scored 30 points, to only 11 for the Cardinal.

Texas is lighting up the scoreboard for 72.8 ppg, and it boasts four double- digit scorers in Isaiah Taylor (15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg), Holmes (12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Myles Turner (11.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg) and Felix (10.0 ppg, 2.1 apg). Defensively, the Longhorns permit only 55.1 ppg, with opponents finding the bottom of the net on a mere 32.5 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a lowly 29.2 percent showing from beyond the arc. Texas is among the national leaders in rebounding margin (+14.5), but it needs to tighten things up with regard to turnover differential (-4.5).

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