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Depleted Rhode Island suffers loss to hot Houston team

E.C. Matthews couldn’t do enough to carry the Rams to victory

NCAA Basketball: Houston at Louisiana State Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Houston picked up a nice 82-78 win against an injured Rhode Island team on Saturday.

Sharp shooting from Danrad Knowles and Rob Gray Jr. put the Cougars over the top against the Hassan Martin-less Rams. Here are some takeaways from today’s game:

Rhody’s response to the loss will make or break their season

There’s no doubt that Rhode Island is a strong team, despite three straight road losses. Hassan Martin is an NBA caliber player and without him, the Rams struggled. However, E.C. Matthews poured his heart into this game. He scored 31 points, including six three’s, to lead the Rams. Cyril Langevine filled in admirably for Martin with a career-high 10 points and 11 rebounds, though most of that production came in the first half. Even with Martin back, the Rams need to build depth in their front court.

Rhody has the pieces to succeed but the Rams need to shoot better than 69 percent from the line. This was actually a tick up from their season average, which sits at 67.8 percent and is a lingering issue on an otherwise solid offense.

UT Rio Grande Valley, Liberty and, most notably, Harvard all get shots at Houston the rest of the way, so let’s get better acquainted with the Cougars (besides, they feel like they should be a mid-major, don’t they?).

The “H-Town Takeover” begins now

Houston hasn’t won two games in a row since the beginning of the season. Today’s win was its best win of the year. With Gray Jr, Knowles and Damyean Dotson, the Cougars have the firepower to compete in the American.

Rob Gray Jr. can ball

The junior guard had 30 points today and has shot over 50 percent in every other game so far. His defense remains strong with seven rebounds today. He flashed star potential against Arkansas by scoring 22 points off 10-of-17 shooting.