Temple cruises past Rice for third straight win

Temple Men’s Basketball dominated Rice from start to finish, picking up a 65-43 win Wednesday night on the road.

Hysier Miller led the Temple with 16 points in its 65-43 rout against Rice. Temple now finds itself in a position to earn a bye in the AAC Tournament. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Men’s Basketball has struggled to find its footing this season, and many of the team’s losses have been within single digits or come in overtime. The trend seemed likely to continue early in Wednesday’s game as Temple went two minutes without a basket and Rice tied the game through eight minutes of play.

Temple began to find momentum when guards Hysier Miller and Matteo Picarelli hit back-to-back threes and the team went to the locker room up nine. Temple took command from there, leading by at least 10 points for the remainder of the game and cruising to its third straight victory.

Temple (11-17, 4-11 American Athletic Conference) routed Rice (11-17, 5-10 AAC) 65-43 Wednesday night in Houston. Temple has bounced back from losing 10 straight games and now has a shot at a bye in the AAC Tournament.

Rice entered the game scorching hot on offense, averaging 83 points in its last three games, but Temple stifled Rice’s offense in the first half, holding them to just 19 points in the first 20 minutes of play.

Temple’s defense carried the way, forcing Rice to go on multiple scoreless stretches. Rice guard Travis Evee sliced his way through the lane to knot the game up eight minutes into the action, but his team went ice cold after that, going without a field goal for six minutes.

Temple’s offense could not pull ahead. Guard Jordan Riley got Temple on the board early with two quick buckets, but Temple’s offense went cold after that and was inconsistent for the majority of the half. The team shot 46 percent in the first period of play, keeping Rice within striking distance.

Temple found a rhythm with three minutes to go in the first half and used a 6-0 run to enter halftime up 28-19.

The team carried its momentum from the end of the first half and turned its nine-point lead into a 20-point rout in the blink of an eye, outscoring Rice 18-7 in the first eight minutes. Rice’s abysmal shooting day continued, hitting just 25 percent from the field and only one shot from beyond the arc. Rice’s 43 points were the fewest Temple has allowed all season.

Rice found life with eight minutes remaining in the game, going on a 12-point run to cut Temple’s lead to 15 with four minutes to go. The lead didn’t shrink any smaller, as Miller knocked down two shots from downtown to bump the lead back to 20, and Temple put the finishing touches on its third straight win.

Miller was the only player to reach double-digit points with 16 on an efficient 50 percent from the field. Picarelli, Riley and forward Steve Settle III all finished with eight points for Temple.

Temple will return to The Liacouras Center to play Tulsa (14-13, 5-10 AAC) on March 3 at 1 p.m.

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