Bulldogs face big road test at Rice

Quandre Bullock

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

The Louisiana Tech Men’s Basketball team is off to Houston to take on the Rice Owls with tipoff set for tonight at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse. It will be the eighth road game of the season for the Bulldogs as well as the third game away from home in league play.

Date/Time: Thursday, Jan. 5 | 7 p.m. CT
Location: Tudor Fieldhouse (Houston, Texas)
TV/Stream: ESPN+
Talent: Chris Mycoskie (pxp), Nate Griffin (analyst)
Radio: LA Tech Sports Network — Malcolm Butler (pxp) | LA Tech Athletics app
Stats: LA Tech Athletics app

LA Tech managed to erase a 13-point deficit, but ended up falling late to Charlotte by a narrow score of 68-66. The Bulldogs used a 13-2 run in the second half to take a lead with six minutes to go, but came up empty on too many possessions down the stretch.

LA Tech shot 45.8 percent from beyond the arc (11-of-24), the second best clip of the season, but on the flipside the 49ers shot 53.3 percent from the field (second highest allowed).

The defense continued to force turnovers, forcing Charlotte into 15 (second most by the 49ers this season). It marked the 11th time this season LA Tech has forced 15+ turn­overs (one of only 18 teams in the country to have done so). The Bulldogs rank 11th in the nation in TOs forced per game at 18.29.

Cobe Williams dropped a team-high 21 points in the narrow loss to Charlotte. It marked the sixth time this season he has anchored the Bulldogs in scoring. It was also the fifth time this season with at least 20 points.

With the 21-point effort at Charlotte, Cobe Williams is now just seven points away from becoming the 44th member of the 1,000-point club at LA Tech. There have been a bunch of Bulldogs join the elite club as of late. Williams will be the 10th Bulldog to do so in the last decade.

Dravon Mangum returned to his home state of North Carolina and scored 17 points off the bench. The transfer forward is playing his best stretch of basketball, averaging 18.0 points while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from three-point range (11 total threes) over his last three games.

ABOUT RICE (11-3, 2-1 C-USA)
Rice is off to its best start in almost 20 years, having compiled an 11-3 record. The Owls have won five straight and 10 of their last 11 games, including back-to-back conference road wins over WKU (81-78) and UTEP (72-67OT).

The Owls are one of four conference teams still undefeated at home this season, having won all eight games inside Tudor Fieldhouse. C-USA teams are a combined 72-11 at home this season.

Rice has one of the most potent offenses in the country, ranking in the top 30 in scoring at 82.6 points per game (have eclipsed 80 points in six of their last seven games) and field goal percentage at 48.9 percent. They share the basketball extremely well, averaging 18.1 as­sists per game (tops in the league), and they average the second most made three-pointers per game in the conference at 9.3 (have made 38 threes over their last three games).

The Owls give up their fair share of points de­fensively, but they are a strong rebounding team averaging 29.36 defensive boards per game (ranks ninth in the country).

Rice has started the same five Owls in every game this season with four of them averag­ing double-digit points. Quincy Olivari is the leader offensively, ranking third in the league in scoring at 18.1 points per game. The Third Team All-Conference USA selection a season ago has drained 37 three-pointers, second most in the league.

Perhaps the most important Owl on the ros­ter is center Max Fiedler who does a little bit of everything, averaging 10.5 points as well as a team-best 8.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

LA Tech and Rice will meet for the 28th time on the hardwood Thursday with the Bulldogs leading the all-time series, 20-7. The two teams will face off again in Ruston on Feb. 2.

LA Tech is in the midst of a five-game winning streak over Rice (its third winning streak of five or more in the series that dates back to 1974).

The two programs played four games in the 70s and 80s before becoming conference foes in the Western Athletic Conference (2001-05) and again in Conference USA (2013-present).