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With the call-up by the Houston Rockets of four RGV Vipers players on Monday, players who remained looked for more playing minutes. They definitely took advantage of it Tuesday and look to take that chemistry into back-to-back games tonight and Friday against Mexico City.
Jarrett Culver led the team with 31 points, Darius Days added 27 and Jalen Lecque pitched in 20 as the Vipers led pretty much from start to finish en route to a 123-114 victory at Bert Ogden Arena.
Ray Spalding put together arguably his best performance as a Viper. He scored 18 points, pulled down eight rebounds and five steals to go with five assists. Josh Reaves dished out six assists.
“Ray is amazing and he works for it,” Culver said. “He’s here every morning and late nights. One thing about Ray is he works for it and you can see it, making shots, doing great things. He’s my dawg and we’ve got a great connection. You reap what you sow and he’s been putting the work in so it’s great to see that.”
RGV led 118-110 when Lecque converted a pair of free throws to push the lead to 120-110 with 1:26 remaining in the game. Reaves them took a pass from Thrae Mitchell to push it to 123-114.
The Vipers improved to 5-2, in first place in the South Division, with the win while Texas dropped to 2-6.
Dexter Dennis paced Texas with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Greg Brown III added 20 points and 13 rebounds. First time that the five Vipers starters played together as a unit this season.
“We are trying to develop chemistry. This was the first time this group played together,” head coach Kevin Burleson said. “I have confidence in all my guys. They will get more minutes too. It’s just a matter of time. They are all talented enough to get the opportunity.”
Monday morning the Rockets called up Cam Whitmore, Nate Hinton, Jermaine Samuels Jr. and Nate Williams Jr. The “second” unit definitely held their own.
The Vipers led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter before a dunk from Greg Brown cut the lead to 72-63 midway through the third quarter. However, Jarrett Culver had a hot hand with seven points in the period and Ray Spalding scored six, finishing the quarter with a massive two-handed dunk and RGV pushed the lead back to 14 to start the fourth quarter.
The Vipers led 67-52 at the half, with four players already in double digits scoring. Lecque led the way with 16 while Days scored 15 and Jarrett Culver added 14. Spalding scored 10 while leading the team with six rebounds, four assists and three steals at the break.
For the sixth time in seven games this season, the Vipers jumped out to a lead after the first quarter 30-20. Going into the night, the Vipers were 4-1 when leading after the first quarter.
Despite going 1-for-7 from 3-point land in the quarter and 2-for-13 in the game, Days still scored 13 points and pulled down three rebounds in the period. Spalding opened the game with one of his most solid performances. He scored seven points, including a 3-pointer, had five rebounds, two steals an and assist while playing eight minutes of the period. He connected on a second 3 in the second quarter, off the backboard to keep the Vipers’ lead in double digits.
“Ray’s ballin. He’s been looking good all camp, and he’s scoring points, getting rebounds and kept us all together, Burleson said. “He’s playing well, he’s prepared every day and coming in early. I’m happy he’s showing it on the court and leading us.”