Panthers Fall to Rice, Go 0-2 in Texas Swing

Devon Andrews was the C-USA player of the week last week. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics

Richard Gibson/Staff Writer

  Coming off a 74-56 loss in North Texas, FIU needed to bounce back to tie four other teams for the second best conference record in Conference USA. (FAU, Western Kentucky, North texas, and LA Tech) However, the 8-8 Rice Owls put up a performance on both offense and defense that FIU couldn’t overcome. FIU didn’t necessarily play badly, but after 40 solid minutes of maintaining the Panthers, Rice won by a score of 92-78.

   The game was close from the start, with both FIU and Rice having their way on offense. FIU’s defense, while getting a few blocks, couldn’t stop the inside pressure from Rice. Rice’s defense couldn’t stop the numerous jump shots from Devon Andrews and Trejon Jacob, who both finished the game with 19 points each. Eventually, the defenses began to pick up, leaving both teams at a standstill. 

   However, midway during the first half, Rice was able to go on a 16-1 run. Their defense stepped up and created turnovers which turned into points. Their tempo carried into halftime, and didn’t slow down in the second half. FIU tried to bring the game back, but Rice’s offense was fast paced and their defense forced 12 turnovers. 

   Overall, Rice played a much faster offense while minimizing turnovers and being efficient from the free throw line and beyond the arc. This stayed true until the game had ended in a 92-78 loss for the Panthers. 

   For FIU, Osasumwen Osaghae was their leading rebounder with 8 total, including 6 defensive rebounds. Antonio Daye Jr led the team in assists, grabbing five. FIU, known for being one of the best blocking teams in the nation, got five blocks against Rice, with Isaiah Banks nabbing three of them. Rice didn’t manage to get any blocks of their own. 

   However Rice was able to out rebound FIU, with 36 rebounds compared to 35. They also were more efficient in assists, putting up 19 in total, while FIU only put up 10. Rice only committed 9 turnovers, which is less than FIU’s 12. Lastly, they shot 40% from the 3-point line, which is a big increase from FIU’s 24%.

   The loss sets FIU back quite a bit. Their overall record is 11-6, which is tied for second best with FAU and UAB, while trailing LA Tech who has a 12-4 record. However, their conference record is 2-2, which is tied for fourth with UAB, UTSA, and Marshall. Aside from UTSA and North Texas, FIU will have to play 6 teams that have better conference records than them in both January and February. 

   FIU’s next two games will be at home, starting on Thursday, January 16th. They’ll host UAB at 7pm, then host Middle Tennessee on Saturday, January 18th at 7pm. After that, they’ll head to Old Dominion on January 23rd and start another two-game road trip. 

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