HOUSTON - Marcus Evans scored a season-high 31 points and had a career-high eight assists as Rice won its fifth straight game, 90-77, over Houston Baptist Wednesday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, Rice improves to 6-1 on the year, its best start since the 1976-77 season.
Evans finished 9-of-12 from the field, 2-of-4 from three and 11-of-15 from the line. He recorded his fourth career 30-point game while added three steals.
Marquez Letcher-Ellis scored a season-high 12 points with a career-high four steals. Egor Koulechov scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and Marcus Jackson had 11 points. Corey Douglas added nine points and seven rebounds.
"That was a great college basketball game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "It was exciting and intense. That's what you want. Hopefully, we take a lesson from this game and learn a lot from it. We had contributions from a lot of guys today, so I'm excited for that."
Rice led 37-29 at the half. HBU (2-4) cut the deficit to three outscoring by the Owls 10-5 over the first five minutes. After the teams traded baskets, Evans connected on a pair of free throws. But two straight baskets by Josh Ibarra pulled the Huskies within 46-45 with 13:08 to play.
Rice scored seven of the nest 10 points to push the lead to 53-48. A layup by Cody Stetler cut it to 53-50, but Jackson answered with a three from the top of the key. Stetler hit a jumper, but a three-point play by Evans followed by a jumper from Koulechov gave Rice a 61-52 lead with 8:43 to play.
After trading baskets, HBU cut the deficit to five on a jumper from Alex Fountain and two free throws by Colter Lasher. Four straight free throws by Douglas and Evans pushed the lead to nine. Reveal Chukwujekwu hit a jumper, but Jackson hit another three. Fountain made one-of-two free throws to cut the deficit to 70-61 with 5:23 to play, but the Huskies would get no closer.
HBU scored on its first possession before Rice scored seven straight points. Braxton Bonds made a layup but Connor Cashaw answered with a three. After the teams traded baskets, Asa Cantwell hit a three for HBU. Chad Lott made one-of two free throws, but Reveal Chukwujekwu hit a jumper to pull the Huskies within 13-11, 5:45 into the game.
However, Rice went on an 18-6 run over the next 6:52 to take its largest lead of the half at 31-17. Lasher made two straight baskets, but Evans followed with a jumper. Bonds and Chad Lott traded jumpers. But, Rice missed its final six shots of the half as they went into the break with a 37-29 lead.
Rhoades added, "We showed a lot of resolve today. Sometimes things don't go your way. We're still young. I really liked our resolve today, especially the last ten minutes of the game. HBU made it a game, but I liked how we responded."
The Owls connected on 53.7% (29-of-54) from the floor and 38.9% (7-of-18) from three. HBU was 3-of-67 (49.3%) from the field and just 3-of-9 from three. Rice outrebounded the Huskies, 34-to-29, while also recording 14 steals.
Rice goes back on the road this Saturday, Dec. 3, when it travels to Lubbock to face former Southwest Conference foe Texas Tech. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and will be broadcast by Fox Sports Southwest.