The junior guard poured in 12 points after halftime, hitting three crucial treys to re-take the lead for good. He sat out the first 12:30 of the first half for what coach John Groce called a "coaches decision." Rice entered after that and finished with four assists and three rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
"My team was doing a great job of finding me," Rice said. "I felt they were some good shots. Coach told me take the shots. That's what I did."
Three stars next in line:
Ekey missed four of his five shots but did the dirty work necessary to get a victory. He finished with nine rebounds, three blocks, a steal and an assist. It's too bad there's no stat for tipped balls and keeping the potential for offensive rebounds alive. Ekey would probably top that list.
"Jon had some really good looks… He had two or three 3s that were wide open," Groce said. "We'll take those any day of the week. They were great shots."
The sophomore walk-on played 14 minutes and scored 14 points. That's an efficient clip for sure, especially with starting guard Tracy Abrams out with a strained hamstring. He didn't commit a single turnover and was 3-of-5 from long range.
"Coach always talks about being unconditional," LaTulip said. "I talked to Jaylon (Tate) before the game, I said, ‘we both got to step up here.' Situations like that are going to happen, so, you know, you've got to be ready"
The freshman scored 10 points while only taking three shots. He hit all six of his free throws, adding seven boards and three assists.
"I want him to be aggressive," Groce said. "He has a gift. I mean, he's a really special kid, a special player. We want him to be aggressive. When he's in attack mode he's at his best. I thought tonight he was really aggressive on the glass, especially in the second half. He had some big time rebounds, stepped up knocked some free throws down. I thought he communicated all week. He's starting to talk, which tells me he knows more about what he's doing at both ends of the floor. Tonight he talked well. I could hear him out there calling out schemes and coverages we were trying to execute. He's making great progress."