We’re one game into the 2013-14 basketball season and the Rhode Island Rams are looking pretty good. Tonight’s match-up is going to provide a real test, however. Rhody will be in Texas tonight to take on the SMU Mustangs in one of their tougher road game in the non-conference schedule. URI handled Larry Brown’s squad with no issues a season ago, beating them 72-50 at the Ryan Center. But combine a road game with a much improved Southern Methodist team and this one appears quite challenging. The Rams are also a team on the rise, which is why we predicted a big road win for Dan Hurley and Rhode Island. Let’s see how they can make it happen:
1. Keep Onyekaba Rolling
Yes, it was only one game. But Ifeanyi Onyekaba’s performance on Friday night was so awesome that it earned him Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the Week honors. The key now is for him to build on that success. Obviously, it would be asking too much to expect a double-double every night, but can the sophomore big man be a reliable force down low game after game? If so, it’ll make Rhody that much more dangerous.
2. Generate Turnovers
This seems like a silly “key to victory”. Obviously the Rams want to generate turnovers, as would any basketball team in any game. But consider this: the TCU Horned Frogs recorded 11 steals on Friday night against the Mustangs. If that means that SMU is prone to coughing up the basketball, then Rhody needs to capitalize.
3. Win the Battle On the Glass
This was a fairly simple task to accomplish against Maine, but it may not be as easy tonight. The Mustangs out-rebounded the Horned Frogs 39-34 on Friday night and grabbed 16 offensive boards to TCU’s 10. Far from dominating, but certainly better than what the Black Bears brought to the table. It’s quite possible that the whomever grabs the most rebounds tonight will go on to win the game.
4. Shoot From Outside
We’re just four days into college basketball season… is it really time to start asking who is going to hit outside shots for the Rams? Probably not, but there is a bit of concern after Rhody shot just 19 percent from beyond the arc against Maine. The good news is that Southern Methodist allowed TCU to bury 44 percent of their three-pointers, so URI could get some better looks tonight. Let’s see if they can knock a few down.
5. Slow Down Moore
Now that Jalen Jones is no longer in the mix, Rhody’s focus should shift to sophomore Nic Moore. The transfer from Illinois State led the Mustangs in points, rebounds, and assists in SMU’s 69-61 win over TCU. It’s quite possible that T.J. Buchanan gets a few more minutes than normal tonight as he tries to limit Moore’s versatility.
So what do you think – do the Rams get a big win tonight? Or is this game too much too soon for a team still developing their identity? Let us know in the comments!