HOUSTON (AP) Wayne Tinkle's Oregon State team is heavy on inexperience. But it was a veteran that pulled the Beavers to a 3-0 start.
Gary Payton II scored 19 points and Oregon State rode a late first-half spurt to a 77-69 win over Rice on Thursday night.
Payton was 8 of 11 from the field and added seven assists. Malcolm Duvivier added 14 points and Tres Tinkle 12.
''We're a young team as far as early in the season and putting together some young and old,'' Wayne Tinkle said. ''I was disappointed in our lack of focus out of timeouts and our defensive details but a gritty win against a very well-coached, tough team.''
For Rice (0-3), Marcus Evans scored 18 points, Egor Koulechov 16 and Marquez Letcher-Ellis 12.
After jousting back and forth with Rice for most of the first half, Oregon State went into halftime on a 17-6 run for a 44-33 lead.
The Beavers started the second half with an 8-0 run and built a 19-point lead - the largest of the night.
Koulechov's 3-pointer cut the Owls' deficit to nine with 6:59 left and after his two free throws made it an eight-point deficit with 4:48 remaining, Olaf Schaftenaar's jumper pushed the lead back to 10.
Evans' free throws made it a seven-point deficit for Rice with 2:09 left. But Payton converted a 3-point play after sinking a layup.
Wayne Tinkle wasn't surprised his star player showed up big late.
''He's our leader,'' he said. ''Down the stretch, he made the plays. He made some defensive plays. He's got to be the guy that's the sounding board for the head coach out there.''
Rice is a young team as well. The Owls only have one senior on the roster and hope to improve.
''I think there was a level of fight we had today and aggressiveness,'' Rice head coach Mike Rhoades said. ''That is a good thing. Hopefully, it's a precursor to how we're going to play the rest of the year.''
RICE: The Owls' losing streak against Pac-12 opponents stretched to nine. The last win over a team from the Pac-12 came in the championship game of the 2003 BP Top of the World Classic. The Owls beat Washington State 64-49 that season.
Oregon State: The Beavers are 3-0 for the second consecutive year. They only did so once between 2000 and 2013, in 2011.
Oregon State and Rice had 29 rebounds apiece. The Beavers have only outrebounded one opponent in the last 16 games (Iona) dating back to last season.
JUST LIKE DAD
Gary Payton II had six steals. That extends his streak to 34 consecutive games with a steal. If the streak continues, he can break the record 37-game streak set by his famous father, Gary Payton, Dec. 1 in Corvallis, Oregon.
Koulechov, a redshirt sophomore, suited up in front of the home crowd for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. The Valgograd, Russia, native sat out last year after transferring from Arizona State.
Rice hosts Fresno State on Sunday.
Oregon State plays at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.