If you’re a fan of the UTSA basketball program, just call it the lost weekend in Houston.
The Rice Owls rolled to a 32-point lead in the second half and then held on Saturday for an 84-69 victory over UTSA at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, Rice claimed its second victory over UTSA in two days for a 2-0 start in Conference USA. Consequently, UTSA dropped to 0-2 in the C-USA West Division and to 0-5 on the road this season.
Guard Chris Mullins scored 20 points and hit three 3-point shots to lead four Rice players in double figures. Center Max Fiedler added 18 on 8 of 8 shooting from the field.
Senior Keaton Wallace and freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 15 each for the Roadrunners, who will look to regroup for a two-game home series Jan. 8-9 against North Texas.
UTSA 4-5, 0-2
Rice 8-2, 2-0
North Texas at UTSA, Jan. 8-9
Coming into Houston, UTSA felt good after playing a strong game at Oregon State and then winning two straight at home. But once again, the Roadrunners couldn’t get much going on the road. They shot the ball well in the first half of Game 1 against the Owls but then couldn’t stop them from scoring in the second half. In Game 2, they were out of sync from the beginning, falling behind 22-8 in the first nine minutes. They were down 48-28 at halftime and then 66-34 with 13:40 remaining.
UTSA coach Steve Henson: “We can’t panic. But we got to do some soul searching. You know, this group, we’re a little concerned about some intangibles. We know we got some talent. We got some size. We’ve got a little bit of everything. I wish we could finish at the rim much better. I wish we had more guys who were comfortable attacking … (with) a more downhill attack. Again, that’s such an important part of the game.
“But we’ve got enough talent in there. We just got to make sure we’re locked in, playing for our teammates. Be more vocal, more talk from our upper classmen. They can’t feel good about what happened. Right? They can’t feel good about what happened in these two ball games. Rice was better than us. Both days. There wasn’t any doubt about it. We like our talent. But we got to figure out how to play better basketball.” — Henson.
In five road games, UTSA has played well in stretches of two of them, but in the five games combined, they’re getting outscored by a combined average of 87.6 to 69.2 On the road, the Roadrunners are shooting 38.5 percent from the field and only 27.4 percent from three, while opponents are shooting 49.1 percent afield and 41 percent from three.
Junior forward Cedrick Alley, Jr., did not play because of a nagging groin injury that he aggravated in Game 1 on Friday. Henson said he thinks Alley will be out a couple of days when the Roadrunners start practice next week. “It’s really sore,” the coach said. “He tried to go (today) and about the 30-minute mark (before tipoff) he told us he thought he’d be able to give us a little bit. Then went out for that last warm-up right before the game and just couldn’t do it.” Henson said Eric Parrish played through a sprained ankle.