The Western Kentucky men’s basketball team came out on top against FIU and its 3-point barrage on Saturday for its first Conference USA win of the season, and now the Hilltoppers will be up against another hot-shooting team.

WKU is scheduled to face Rice in an 8 p.m. game Thursday at E.A. Diddle Arena. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

“They present a lot of problems and their style is very similar to Florida International,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “Four out and around that one, going to spread it a lot, but I think a little better players, even.”

After a loss at Louisiana Tech in its C-USA opener – its scheduled opener at Southern Miss was called off – WKU (9-6 overall, 1-1 C-USA) beat an FIU team Saturday that entered as the league’s leader in made 3-pointers per game.

Rice (9-5, 2-1) presents a similar threat.

The Owls enter with the third-best scoring offense in the league at 77.4 points per game – WKU is just behind at 77.3 – and put up plenty of points from behind the arc. Rice leads the league in 3-point percentage, knocking down 38.5% of its attempts from deep, and makes the second-most 3s per game in the league. Rice’s 10.1 triples per game are only behind FIU’s 10.7, but the Panthers have shot 35.5% from deep.

Only four players in the league have made at least 40 3-pointers per game, and two of them play for Rice. Carl Pierre and Travis Evee have each knocked down 40. Pierre – a UMass transfer – leads the team with 15.1 points per game, while Evee adds 14.9. Chris Mullins, Quincy Olivari and Max Fiedler – Rice’s other three starters – each provide over nine points per game.

“Very similar styles, but shoot it better if that’s possible, or as good, for sure – on paper, probably better,” Stansbury said. “ ... Evee is a kid that he’s been there. The other kid is a transfer from UMass – Pierre – that’s really been a difference for them. They were a good team last year, but he’s made a total difference.”

Rice has already proven how dangerous it can be. The Owls are coming off an 85-80 win over preseason C-USA favorite UAB, after beating Middle Tennessee two days prior.

“They had UAB come to the house the other night and they beat UAB,” WKU guard Camron Justice said. “From what it looks like right now just from the scout we went over, they have a bunch of shooters and they’re really shooting the ball well right now, so we’re going to have to really buckle down on defense this game.”

WKU has been no slouch shooting since the start of C-USA play, however.

The Hilltoppers have shot 51.1% (23-of-45) from 3-point range in their first two C-USA games, and are coming off a win over FIU in which five players scored in double figures, which didn’t include leading scorer Jairus Hamilton, who averages 14.2 points per game. Justice, Dayvion McKnight and Josh Anderson add 14, 13.9 and 12.3 points per game, respectively, while Luke Frampton isn’t far behind at 9.4 points per game.

WKU leads the all-time series with Rice 7-2, while Stansbury is a perfect 6-0 against the Owls in his career.

The Hilltoppers are scheduled to follow Thursday’s game with a 3 p.m. game Saturday against reigning C-USA champion North Texas at E.A. Diddle Arena.

RICE (9-5, 2-1) AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (9-6, 1-1)

8 p.m. Thursday/E.A. Diddle Arena

Probable starters


Travis Evee, g, 6-1, so. (14.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Quincy Olivari, g, 6-3, so. (9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg); Carl Pierre, g, 6-4, gr. (15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Max Fiedler, f, 6-11, so. (9.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg); Chris Mullins, g, 6-3, jr. (9.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg).


Luke Frampton, g, 6-5, r-sr. (9.4 ppg, 3 rpg); Dayvion McKnight, g, 6-1, so. (13.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Jamarion Sharp, c, 7-5, jr. (8.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg); Jairus Hamilton, f, 6-8, sr. (14.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg); Camron Justice, g, 6-3, gr. (14 ppg, 2.5 rpg).


CBS Sports Network


Hilltopper Sports Network


Scott Pera (59-78, fifth year; 59-78 overall), Rice; Rick Stansbury (112-66, sixth year; 405-232 overall), WKU.

Series record

WKU leads the all-time series 7-2 (The Hilltoppers won the last meeting 89-66 on Feb. 13 at E.A. Diddle Arena).

Last time out

Rice won 85-80 at home against UAB on Saturday; WKU won 84-71 at home against FIU on Saturday.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit