By Bill Cornwell
Marshall meets Rice tonight in the Herd’s opener in the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which is taking place at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
The Marshall-Rice game is scheduled to tip off at 7pm Eastern and it will be shown by ESPN+.
The Owls earned the right to meet the Herd Tuesday night with a 61-52 win over Southern Miss. The Owls closed the game on a 18-3 run to put away the Golden Eagles after Southern Miss had rolled out to a 48-43 lead with just over six minutes to play. The Golden Eagles didn’t score a field goal the remainder of the game.
Sophomore Forward Max Fielder had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls.
Marshall (15-6, 9-5) was scheduled to visit Rice (14-12, 6-10) on February 19th and 20th, but those games were cancelled due to Covid-19 issues in the Owls program.
Marshall leads the all-time series with Rice 13-4.
The teams last met on January 2, 2020 at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington in a game won by Marshall 89-69.
Scott Pera is in his 4th year as the Owls’ head coach and he has amassed a 49-72 record in Houston.
The Owls lost nine of their last 11 games in conference play, but come into the Marshall game with a two-game win streak, with last night’s Southern Miss preceded by a non-conference win over NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake (80-77).
Rice is led by four double-digit scorers. Sophomore guard Quincy Olivari leads all scorers with 16 points per game. Other top scorers for Rice are sophomore guard Travis Evee (14.3 ppg and named Tuesday as Conference USA’s Newcomer of the Year), Fiedler (10.8) and junior guard Chris Mullins (10.6 ppg).
Fiedler is the Owls top rebounder, averaging 8.8 per game.
Rice outscores opponents by six-tenths of a point per game, making just under 44% of its shots. Marshall averages outscoring Rice by around six points per game. The Owls shoot 35.4% on 3-pointers and 72.4% from the free throw line.
Rice outrebounds opponents by 2.5 caroms per game, records around 15 assists each game and 14 turnovers. The Owls average blocking two shots each game.
Junior forward and C-USA All-Conference first teamer Taevion Kinsey still leads Marshall in scoring with 20 points per game, followed by senior guard Jarrod West (12.2 ppg) and sophomore guard Andrew Taylor (12.1 ppg). Kinsey (6.2 rpg) and Taylor (5.9 rpg) are the Herd’s top rebounders.
West, who was named to the C-USA All-Defensive team and was a 2nd team All-Conference honoree, is tops for Marshall in assists and steals.
Senior forward Jannson Williams tops the Herd in blocks with 45.