This afternoon in the Erwin Center, the Texas Longhorns play their final non-conference game before Big 12 play tips off a week from today in Waco. Rick Barnes' team went into the Christmas break with a stretch of good basketball, including an 18 point victory over North Carolina and a decent showing on the road against Michigan State. Texas fans hope that the good play will continue, and that the Longhorns have digested all of that Christmas ham.
Rice is not a very good basketball team. According to the Ken Pomeroy ratings, the Owls are the worst team on the Texas schedule this season, rated No. 304 out of 347 Division I teams. Pomeroy doesn't rank Chaminade, but it stands to reason that the Silverswords would give the Owls a run for their money if the two played each other.
When Rice is on offense, 6-3 senior Tamir Jackson dominates the ball. He uses a higher proportion of his team's possessions than all but one other Division I player (Joel Wright of Texas State). Jackson shoots a lot, although he isn't particularly efficient. One thing that Jackson (and the rest of the Rice guards) do well is avoid turnovers; the Owls have only coughed up the ball in 17 percent of their possessions this season.
On defense, the Owls really struggle. They miss the physical presence of Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred out of the program and landed at Oregon. The undersized Owls have a lot of trouble on the glass at both ends. Kazemi is one of the best rebounders in the nation. He was a huge loss.
For Texas, the main challenge will be maintaining focus against a much weaker opponent in a largely empty arena during the semester break.