The Rice Owls are in search of their first conference win as a member of the American Conference after spending last season in Conference USA as they go on the road to face the South Florida Bulls on Friday.
Rice Owls vs. South Florida Bulls (-5.5, 144)
A big reason for Rice having lost their first two conference games and having a 6-9 record overall is their perimeter defense, ranking 324th in the nation in opponent 3-point shooting percentage entering Thursday night.
While South Florida overall this season entered Wednesday 190th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage, they have made 37.7% of their 3-pointers the past seven games after making just 24.2% of their 3’s in the first six games of the season.
Despite ranking just 246th in the country in points allowed on a per possession basis entering Thursday, Rice’s defensive metrics are warped due to playing lesser teams in non-conference play, holding their opponents from the Southland, SWAC, and non-Division I level to fewer than 60 points in all five games while surrendering at least 75 points in all 10 of their other games.
For the Owls, their own lack of 3-point shooting on offense has also been of concern with the team shooting 28.7% from 3-point range this season, ranking 330th in the country.
The track record of Rice’s top scorers indicate there should be some positive correction coming for their outside shooting with leading scorer Travis Evee currently shooting 31% from 3-point range after having never made less than 34.8% of his 3’s in his first four college basketball seasons and Mekhi Mason making just 27.7% of his 3’s with 12.9 points per game this season after making the All-Conference USA Freshman Team last season after averaging 9.9 points per game on 37.5% 3-point shooting.
Even with the cold outside shooting, Rice has exceeded 75 points on offense in four of their past six games and gets to face a South Florida defense that is allowing opponents to make 50.9% of their 2-point field goals at home this season, which ranked 258th entering Thursday.
With South Florida having exceeded 70 points on offense in seven straight games and both teams playing at a relatively fast pace with both in the top 125 in possessions per game, there will be plenty of scoring in Florida on Friday.
The Play: Rice vs. South Florida Over 144