HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – The first meeting between the two didn’t turn out well for the Rice Owls. The 14-15 East Carolina Pirates cruised to an 82-68 win in Greenville, North Carolina back on February 4. That’s a game the Owls would like to wipe away from their memories.
“They handled us pretty well down there,” says Rice Head Basketball Coach, Ben Braun. “So, I know they’ve got our team’s attention. They better. That’s a good basketball team and they beat us; one of the few teams this year that beat us pretty soundly.”
Five players scored in double figures against the Owls led by 6’8” senior forward Darrius Morrow with 16. But it was 6’8” junior forward Maurice Kemp who did the damage scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Only 7 players this season have earned double-doubles against the Owls which is why Braun highly regards the Pirates.
The 5-11 C-USA Pirates out-rebounded the Owls 39-29. Owl’s junior forward Arsalan Kazemi, who on Tuesday was named 2nd Team All C-USA, was held to one point and eight rebounds in 23 minutes of play. Junior guard Tamir Jackson scored 17 points in 30 minutes.
However, point guard Dylan Ennis, who on Tuesday today was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team, led the Owls in scoring with 21 points. Ennis is looking forward to the rematch.
“It’s a good matchup,” says Ennis. “Their style of play is just run and gun and just real rugged. I think a lot of our guys, the freshmen, grew up playing against that. The guys who’ve been here, they’ve seen every style of play. So, I think going up against them is going to be a good matchup for us. But if we stay on the same page, I think we can take it.”
ENNIS FEELS LIKE SEASONED VET
This will be the first C-USA Tournament for Ennis who is comfortable in the starting point guard role. He’s not short of confidence and has the numbers to show why he was selected to the conference All-Freshman team. He’s averaging 8.2 points per game and averages 3.9 assists per game which is good for a 7th place ranking in C-USA.
Ennis was also high point man at TCU with 18, 21 at East Carolina, 15 at Central Florida, and 18 against Southern Miss. So much for being a freshman, says Ennis.