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HOUSTON — For just the second time since joining Conference USA, Rice will open league play on the road when travels to El Paso to face UTEP on Friday, Jan. 1. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be televised by ASN.
• Rice and UTEP will meet for the 31st time with UTEP holding a 19-11 advantage.
• UTEP has won 15 of the last 19 meetings, including the last five.
• The series dates back to 1997 with all 30 meetings coming while the teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA.
• In games played in El Paso, the Miners hold a 12-3 lead and have won eight of the last nine. Rice’s last win in El Paso came in 2012, a 68-61 victory.
El Paso, Texas
Men's Basketball Clipped by UTEP in Final Minutes
Rice University men's basketball overcame a slow start to take a lead early in the second half, but in its home finale, UTEP rallied back to claim a narrow 68-65 win over the Owls in front of 8,574 fans at the Don Haskins Center. Both teams now turn their attention to next week's Conference USA Championship.
• Rice enters today’s game with a 5-8 record. The Owls are looking to snap a two-game losing streak after dropping their non-conference finale to Incarnate Word on Tuesday, 82-76 in Tudor Fieldhouse.
• Freshman Marcus Evans leads Conference USA in scoring, averaging 19.8 per game. He also leads with 2.0 steals and is fourth in minutes played (33.2).
• Redshirt sophomore Egor Koulechov is second in the conference in scoring, averaging 19.0 points while leading the team with 7.4 rebounds, which is eighth in C-USA. He leads the conference in minutes played (33.9), is second in three-pointers made (3.0) and fourth in free throw percentage (.821).
• Freshman Marquez Letcher-Ellis is third on the team with 8.4 points and second with 5.1 rebounds.
He is fourth in C-USA with 1.5 blocks.
• Senior Max Guercy is averaging 7.4 points. He leads the league in free throw percentage (.877) and is second in assists (5.6).
• Rice is averaging 74.8 points per game while allowing 80.1.
• The Owls are connecting on 43.4% from the field and 31.2% from the three-point line while allowing 47.8% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc.
• UTEP enters the game with an 8-5 record and on a two-game winning streak after defeating UT-Rio Grande Valley, 85-64, Tuesday night.
• Omega Harris is averaging 16.0 points per game and is shooting 46.2% from three over the last four games since regaining his academic eligibility.
• Junior guard Lee Moore is scoring 13.9 points per game. He is 10th in Conference USA in assists (3.6) and steals (3.6).
• Senior guard Earvin Morris is averaging 13.5 points.
• Junior guard Dominic Artis is scoring 12.2 points per game. He is third in the league assists (5.3) and fourth in steals (1.7).
• Senior center Hooper Vint is averaging 10.2 points per game and is ninth in C-USA in field goal percentage (.529).
• UTEP is averaging 76.4 points per game while allowing 70.0.
• The Miners are connecting on 44.5% from the field and 33.6% from the three-point line while allowing just 39.8% from the field and 32.3% from beyond the arc.
• UTEP is second in Conference with 16.0 assists per game.
• Tim Floyd is in his sixth season at the helm of the UTEP basketball program, where he has a 111-68 (.620) record. In 22 years as a head coach, he is 439-248 (.639).
Rice in Conference Openers
• Rice is entering its 11th season in Conference USA.
• In conference openers, the Owls are 3-7.
• Rice is opening the conference season on the road for the first time since 2008-09 and just the second time since joining C-USA in 2005-06.
• The Owls fell in its only other conference opener on the road, a 65-54 defeat at Tulane in 2009.
• In conference road openers, they are 3-7.
• Rice continues its three-game road swing to open conference play this Sunday, Jan. 3, when it travels to San Antonio to take on UTSA. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.