HOUSTON, Texas - Rice University men's basketball returns from its final exams break to host the second annual School House Mania on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse. Nearly 4,000 Houston-area students from 29 local schools will be on hand to cheer on the Owls against St. Thomas. A limited number of tickets remain available for the game, and may be purchased at the Rice Athletics Ticket Office.
Before enjoying the basketball game, students in attendance will take part in a math demonstration put on by the Rice University School Mathematics Project beginning at 10:30 a.m. The second-annual event is geared toward elementary students in third, fourth and fifth grades. More than 4,900 fans packed Tudor Fieldhouse to watch the Owls win in last year's inaugural event.
The 12-day layoff marks the team's longest break from competition during the regular season. The Owls last took to the hardwood on Dec. 6 in a win over St. Edward's before final exams began. Rice claimed a 54-49 win behind 14 points and nine rebounds from Andrew Drone, while Bishop Mency added 12 points off the bench and Marcus Jackson chipped in 10 of his own. Over the past 10 seasons, Rice is 8-2 in its first game following the final exam break.
Noting the Owls
Head coach Mike Rhoades enters Thursday's game one win shy of 200 for his career. He has a 199-82 career record, including 197 wins in 10 seasons at Randolph-Macon College.
Rice has outscored its opponents in the paint (by an average margin of 8.0) in each of the last four games, beginning against Washington State.
The Owls have out-rebounded opponents three times through eight games this season after doing so just seven times in the previous 61 games.
In the past 10 seasons, Rice is 8-2 in the game immediately following the final exams layoff.
Scouting the Celts (5-5)
Deric Dudley averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as the Celts won a pair of Red River Athletic Conference contests last week. The 6-3 senior guard posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards to knock off Langston University (Okla.), 66-58. He followed with 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists while connecting on six three-pointers to conquer Bacone College (Okla.), 79-47. He was named RRAC Player of the Week on Monday.
Dudley's 17.3 points per game lead the team while Sean Edwards also averages double figures with 10.1 points per game.
The Celts enter the game on a two-game winning streak that evened the team's record at 5-5 for the season. Former Rice assistant coach Todd Smith is in his seventh season at the helm of the program. Thirteen of the team's 15 players hail from the greater Houston area.
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Men's Basketball Tops St. Thomas in Season Opener
Strong debuts from several freshmen propelled Rice University men's basketball to a 69-60 win against St. Thomas in the season opener at Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. The Owls (1-0) knocked down nine three-pointers and added 18 points in the paint to gain a 21-point lead mid-way through the second half before the Celts (0-3) staged a rally to pull within five points late in regulation.
Series History (Rice Leads, 3-1)
The Owls claimed a 79-70 win over St. Thomas in last season's opener behind 17 points from Max Guercy. It was the third win in four meetings against the Celts. In their collegiate debuts, Jackson added 12 points while Drone tallied five rebounds and four points. In two games against UST, Guercy averages 14.5 points per game.
Up Next for Rice
Rice wraps up December with a pair of road games, beginning on Dec. 22 at Lamar. From there, the Owls take a one-week break for the holidays before traveling to face No. 9 (AP) Texas in a noon contest.