The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team hadn’t won a true road game in 2019 up until their 89-62 drubbing of Middle Tennessee on Sunday, but that said more about their level of competition than anything else. URI’s first three games on the road came against Maryland and West Virginia.
Maryland is 11-2 with wins over Marquette and Notre Dame. WVU is 11-1, and just defeated No. 2 Ohio St. on Sunday. Middle Tennessee, o the other hand, entered Sunday’s contest having only defeated a single Division I opponent this season.
The Rams weren’t about to let that number double. Right from the opening tip, Rhody dominated play. Jermaine Harris scored his team’s first six points, a fast start that boosted him to a career-high 17 points.
Harris has now logged double-figure scoring in consecutive contests, the first time he’s managed that feat in his collegiate career. Fellow big-man Cyril Langevine was held out of the starting line-up for disciplinary reasons, but he eventually did get on the court and scored 10 points in 18 minutes.
Efficiency was the name of the game. URI shot 61.9 percent on two-pointers and 41.2 percent from deep. The ball never stuck, with the team dishing out 21 assists to 14 turnovers.
Starting guard Jeff Dowtin finally started to emerge from his early-season shooting malaise. He scored a game-high 21 points on just 11 shots. He connected on 4-of-5 2-pointers and 3-of-6 3-pointers.
Six different Rams ended up in double-figure scoring in the romp. In addition to Dowtin, Langevine and Harris, Antwan Walker, Fatts Russell and Tyrese Martin all left a mark on the scoring sheet.
The career and season marks are seemingly unending from the win: Russell had his first career double-double (10 points, 10 dimes), and notched a career-best in assists, Mekhi Long earned the first start of his collegiate career, Walker hit his first 3-point attempt as a Ram and set a new career-best in points.
After a December with very few games, the Rams will ratchet up the intensity as the new year begins. They close out the non-conference slate at in-state rival Brown this Thursday. Then, Atlantic 10 play begins on Sunday with a home game against Richmond (ended the non-conference with a 10-3 record and wins over Wisconsin and Vanderbilt).
Even though their latest win came over a lackluster opponent, the victory still helped the Rams with their ‘computer numbers’. They jumped up to 74 in KenPom’s standings, a season-high and the best mark there since David Cox took over as head coach. They are one of only three A-10 teams to be inside the top 100 for efficiency on offense and defense. The other two teams are Dayton and VCU.
They moved up even further in the NCAA NET rankings, all the way to no. 69. In the previous iteration of those rankings, they were 84th. They trail Dayton, VCU, and St. Louis in NET. They are two spots ahead of George Mason.