HOUSTON, Texas - Marcus Jackson notched 27 points to lead Rice University men's basketball to a 67-52 win over UTSA in the Conference USA opener for both teams. The sophomore sank five three-pointers and shot 9-of-15 from the field as the Owls tallied a third-straight home win.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, "I thought we did a good job of setting our defense and making it hard for them to get easy baskets. We didn't let them get a string of three or four possessions in a row where they scored so that helped us a lot. This was probably our best overall team defensive game. It was a good time for it and I'm really proud of our guys. We keep getting better and we keep moving forward and I think our team is doing a great job of following through with the process and the plan, and today was a really good example of that."
The Owls shot an outstanding 61.9 percent from the field in the second half, including 6-of-10 three-pointers to take control of the contest. On the night, Rice connected on 51.1 percent of its shots, 11-of-23 three-pointers and 10-of-11 free throws.
With a 29-22 lead at the intermission, the Owls caught fire to open the second half. The team sank its first seven attempts from the field, including four three-pointers, to work up to a 20-point lead at 49-29 with 13:30 to play in regulation.
From there, UTSA began to chip away and pulled within 10 points with just under six minutes remaining, but the Owls held off the visitors by sinking 4-of-5 foul shots and both of the team's attempts from the field in the closing minutes and never let the Roadrunners pull any closer.
Max Guercy reached double figures with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting and three long-range shots. The junior dished out six of Rice's 15 assists and swiped a steal.
Van Green led the Owls in rebounding for the second time this season, with seven. He added six points on 2-of-3 shooting with a steal in 23 minutes off the bench.
Andrew Drone added six points, five rebounds and four blocks while Seth Gearhart tallied eight points to accompany five rebounds and a steal. Dan Peera dished out four assists to accompany two points in 20 minutes.
The Roadrunners owned a narrow 33-32 edge in rebounding but scored 12 second-chance points off of 18 offensive boards. UTSA also owned a 24-14 lead in points in the paint.
Jeromie Hill led the visitors with 15 points and four of the team's six blocks. UTSA shot 34.0 percent from the field and connected on just 4-of-22 three-pointers.
The Owls' home stand continues on Sunday, Jan. 4 as the team hosts UTEP. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse and the game will be televised on American Sports Network.