Men’s Basketball Opens 2015-16 Season at 14/14 California

Nov. 12, 2015

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HOUSTON—Rice opens the 2015-16 campaign when it travels to Berkeley, Calif., to face 14th-ranked Cal on Friday, Nov. 13, at 10:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

This is the second straight season that Rice opens the year against the Pac-12. Last year, the Owls fell at Oregon State, 67-54.

Rice and California will meet for just the third time in their history and the first time since 1974. The series is tied at one. This will be the first game in Berkeley, as the previous two meetings were in Houston.

The game marks the beginning of Year Two of the Mike Rhoades era. Rhoades led Rice to a 12-20 record last year, but were 8-10 in Conference USA play. He also led it to its first victory in the Conference USA Tournament since 2011.

Of the 13 players on the Owls’ 2015-16 roster, 10 are either freshmen or sophomores. Of the 10, sophomores Bishop Mency and Nate Pollard are the only players who have seen action at Rice. Redshirt sophomore Egor Koulechov played his freshman year at Arizona State in 2013-14.

Rice returns just five letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 12-20. However, of those five, four are returning starters. Guard Max Guercy is the lone senior on the team. The Acton, Calif., has started all 93 games that he has played in his career. Last year, he averaged 9.8 points while leading Conference USA in free throw percentage (.864) and dishing out 4.5 assists, good for third in C-USA.

Preseason All-Conference USA member Marcus Jackson, who is the team’s leading returning scorer, averaged 14.5 points last year. He also led the league in three-pointers made per game, making 2.7 per game. Mency averaged 7.8 points last season while leading all freshmen and placing 11th in Conference USA with 1.8 three-pointers per game. Forward Andrew Drone led the team with 5.4 rebounds while adding 6.7 points per game.

Cal enters the season ranked 14th in the Associated Press and USA Today polls. The Golden Bears return eight letterwinners off of last year’s team that went 18-15, including two starters. Cal also welcomes four newcomers to the squad.

Senior Tyrone Wallace, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, leads the veterans on the roster. Averaging 17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 4.0 apg a year ago, he was the only player in the Pac-12 to rate among the top 5 in each category. Juniors Jordan Mathews (13.6 ppg) and Jabari Bird (10.5 ppg) also contributed double-figure points in 2014-15.

Cuonzo Martin is in his second season at the helm of the Cal basketball program. He has an 18-15 (.545) record at Cal and a 142-97 (.594) overall record in seven seasons as a head coach.





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