HARRISONBURG, Va. With the victory, Rice won a true road season-opener for the first time since 1999.
Egor Koulechov led all players with 23 points. Marcus Evans had 20 points, four assists and four steals and Marcus Jackson had 19 points and a game-high eight assists. Connor Cashaw added nine points and a game-high six steals.
"I'm really proud of our team," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "Winning on the road is hard. JMU has a great basketball tradition and I'm really excited for our guys. We put in a lot of work in the preseason and saw the benefits of it tonight. A lot of guys contributed and I think that's going to be out strength."
Shakir Brown opened the scoring for JMU, but Andrew Drone scored six straight points to give Rice an early 6-3 lead. The Dukes scored four straight to take 7-6 lead, but an Evans three-pointer sent Rice on a 7-0 run to take a 13-7 lead 6:42 into the game.
James Madison responded with a 9-0 run over the next 3:58 to take a 16-13 lead. But the Owls went on an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the half, 25-18 with 7:56 to play.
However, Rice went without a field goal over the next 4:49, but went 9-of-10 from the free throw line in that time to maintain its lead. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half, as Rice went into the break with a 46-40 lead.
The teams battled back-and-forth for the first seven minutes of the game. With Rice leading 63-54, Jackson Kent hit two free throws and Tom Vodanovich hit a three to cut the deficit to four. That's when the Owls took over. Ako Adams hit a three. Jackson then stepped in front of a Brown pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup, drawing a foul and converting a three-point play.
After Vodanovich was called for an offensive foul, Jackson converted another three-point play. Jackson then pulled down a rebound off of Brown's missed three-pointer and hit Koulechov at the top of the key, forcing a JMU timeout. Following a steal by Evans, Jackson found Marquez Letcher-Ellis for a dunk to cap off a 14-0 run and push the lead to 77-59 with 9:15 to play.
The Owls never allowed the lead to get less than 15 points and led by as many as 29.
Added Rhoades, "We played clean because we shared the basketball. We had 28 made baskets and 17 of them were assisted. That's huge for us. Defensively, we were in the right position. We handled the ball well enough and guys were helping each other out."
Rice connected on 52.8% (28-of-53) from the floor and 42.3% (11-of-26) from three. James Madison was 19-of-38 (50.0%) from the field and 7-of-16 (43.8%) from beyond the arc. Rice was outrebounded 25-to-21 but recorded 17 steals and 17 assists.
Rice begins its home schedule this Wednesday, November 16, when it hosts crosstown foe Texas Southern. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.