Drexel (1-4) vs. Rice (1-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 25, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center Arena (9,000) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Drexel 0-1, Rice 1-1. Away Record: Drexel 1-1, Rice 0-1. Neutral Record: Drexel 0-2, Rice 0-2. Conference Record: Drexel 0-0, Rice 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: After both squads failed to get it done in their first two appearances at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, the Drexel Dragons and Rice Owls will battle for seventh place in the DirecTV Classic.
This will be the first meeting between these schools on the basketball court.
Drexel saw its record drop to 1-4 its last time out as it fell 69-65 to Xavier despite shooting 55 percent from the field. The Dragons have been playing shorthanded in the tourney as Chris Fouch has missed both games and Damion Lee missed the first round. Drexel lost by double digits to Saint Mary's in the first round after it was unable to stop the Gaels' star point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who went on to net 32 points. The Dragons then had the same issue versus the Musketeers as their rookie floor general Semaj Christon scored a season-high 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Coach Bruiser Flint's squad is now allowing 71.2 ppg after holding teams to just 56.1 ppg last season. The only win came over local rival Penn in a thriller at The Palestra.
Rice showed improvement from its first-round loss on the offensive end, but could not keep up with Drake and dropped a 77-66 decision. The Owls were coming off a miserable loss to Georgia Tech in which they made only 11-of-48 field goal attempts (22.9 percent) to score just 36 points, the lowest total by the school since 2000. Rice improved to 41.5 percent shooting from the floor in the second round, but it allowed Drake to knock down 11-of-25 of its three- point attempts. The Owls are now 1-4 with their only win coming over Division II foe St. Edwards. They were also defeated by Division II opponent (St. Thomas-TX) in their season opener, and suffered a 77-63 loss to Temple in Philadelphia.
Drexel received a boost on Friday when Lee returned to the lineup and led the team with 19 points. The sophomore guard was a huge part of the team's success last season and was honored with the Colonial Athletic Association's Rookie of the Year award for his efforts. Frantz Massenat had a solid performance versus Xavier with 18 points and redshirt freshman Tavon Allen added 13 points in the loss. Allen is leading the team with 14.7 ppg, but Lee (14.3 ppg) and Massenat (13.6 ppg) are close behind. Massenat is also handing out 5.2 assists per game.
Although the Owls' shooting and offensive production clearly improved from round one to round two, they still need to improve their rebounding. Rice is averaging 7.8 rebounds less per game than its opponents, including its contests versus Division II opposition. Senior guard Tamir Jackson has done a nice job trying to guide the team to wins. The 6-3 senior is leading the team with 15.2 points and 8.6 boards per game. However, Jackson is shooting only 32.9 percent from the field and turning the ball over 3.8 times per contest. In Rice's low-scoring loss on Thursday, Austin Ramljak came off the bench to make 6-of-12 three-point attempts for a career-high 18 points. The junior guard added three more makes from long range in Friday's loss.
The Owls will have trouble once again as the Dragons are going to be much better with a rested Lee in action. Drexel has been feisty in both of its losses, while Rice has shown its deficiencies at both ends.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drexel 68, Rice 57
11/25 10:33:42 ET