HOUSTON - Rice used a 23-3 second half run to turn a seven-point deficit into a 101-79 victory over North Texas, Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 12-6, 2-3 in Conference USA.
The 101 points are a season-high and the most-ever scored by Rice in a C-USA game. The 22-point margin is also the largest for Rice in a C-USA game. It is also the first time in school history that the Owls have scored 100-points three times in a season.
Egor Koulechov led the Owls with 26 points, a season-high 15 rebounds and four assists. Marcus Evans scored 19 points and Marcus Jackson had 17 points and four steals. Marquez Letcher-Ellis added 11 points and seven boards.
"That was a team effort," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "I'm really proud of our guys. It wasn't always pretty, but it's the result we wanted. I liked our aggressiveness and thought we did a good job most of the game of guarding and making it hard for (North Texas). If we can just hold onto the basketball, we'll be really good."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair. Rice scored the first five points before North Texas (6-11, 0-5) tied the game. Back-to-back baskets by Andrew Drone and Evans gave Rice a four-point lead, but A.J. Lawson made two-of-three free throws to cut it to two. Evans and Ako Adams then hit back-to-back three-pointers for a 15-7 lead, 6:20 into the game.
After two Mean Green free throws, the teams traded baskets over the next 3:13, closing with an Evans three-pointer for a nine-point Rice lead. After UNT cut the lead to five with it stayed that way until five straight points by Koulechov to give the Owls their largest lead of the half, 34-24, with 4:34 to play.
However, Rice turned the ball over three times and was held to just three shot attempts the rest of the way as North Texas closed the half on a 15-3 run to take a 39-37 halftime lead.
UNT opened the second half with two straight baskets. Rice answered with two of its own, but the Mean Green got a three-point play by Lawson and a layup from Jeremy Combs to take its largest lead of the game, 48-41, just 2:52 into the game.
That's when the Owls took over. Koulechov hit a pair of free throws and following a turnover, Jackson went in for an uncontested layup. J'Mychal Reese missed two free throws and converted a three-point play to tie the game. After a stop, Evans hit Jackson for a three-pointer and the lead. Lawson hit a layup to cut the deficit to one, Cashaw made a layup and Koulechov hit two free throws. Lawson made one-of-two from the line before a Koulechov three sent Rice on a 9-0 run to take a 66-52 lead with 12:02 to play. North Texas would get no closer than nine as the Owls led by as many as 26 points.
Rice connected on 53.2% (33-of-62) from the field and 44.4% (12-of-27) from three. They also were 74.2% (23-of-31) from the free throw line. North Texas shot 28-of-61 (45.9%) and 6-of-14 (42.9%) from three but was just 17-of-36 (47.2%) from the charity stripe. The Owls also won the rebounding battle, 45-to-31.
Rice goes on the road for two games, beginning next Thursday, Jan. 19, when it travels to Ruston, La., to face Louisiana Tech. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.