Rhode Island (8-4, 0-0) opens up conference play at home against Richmond (11-3, 1-0) on Sunday seeking a fourth straight win over the Spiders as they clash at Thomas M. Ryan Center.
The game (Noon ET start time) won’t be on TV anywhere, but you can watch it live on ESPN+:
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Richmond vs Rhode Island Preview
Rhode Island has had the edge of late against Richmond, but the teams are heading opposite directions heading into their matinee clash on Sunday.
Richmond opened the Atlantic 10 season with a 84-52 walloping of St. John’s in a game that was never in question. Blake Francis netted a game-high 23 for the Spiders in the win.
“I thought we had three really big spurts on offense,” head coach Chris Mooney said. “Otherwise we were overall decent on offense, but during those spurts we were tremendous.”
The Spiders 11-3 record is their best through 14 games since 2010-11 (also 11-3). That year, edition of the Spiders won a program-record 29 games and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
Francis and Jacob Gilyard have proved to be a lethal 1-2 punch for Richmond, both landing in the top 10 of scoring in the A-10. Francis is scoring 18.2 points per game while Gilyard is 15.2.
What might have been most impressive in their win against St. John’s was the defensive effort put in to slow down Ryan Daly — the conference’s leading scorer entering the game.
“For us to make it difficult for him was critical to our overall defensive effort,” said Mooney. “I thought that the combination of Blake [Francis] and Andre [Gustavson] really guarded him very, very well.”
Now they have another tough matchup in Rhode Island junior Fatts Russell, who leads the conference with 20.3 points per game.
Rhode Island saw its three-game streak halted against Brown University last time out, allowing 13 3-pointers from the Bears. Browns shot 46.4% from beyond the arc.
“We take great pride in guarding the line, and we didn’t do that,” URI coach David Cox said. “Closing out and running them off the line was a point of emphasis, and we came up short in that regard.”
A loss to the 6-6 Bears stung, but they don’t have long to recover if they want to start conference play out on the right foot.
“We’ve got to turn the page quickly,” Cox said after the loss. “As much as (losing to Brown) stings — and yes, this does sting — we’ve got to flip that page and start to prepare for Richmond.
“It was a humbling lesson. And not only a basketball lesson, but another life lesson. Hopefully we can learn something from it and be ready to bounce back on Sunday.”
Rhode Island got the best of Richmond last time out, winning 78-67. The Rams are a 2.5-point favorite for the game.