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Even though Rice fans couldn't get enough of 6'9" center Brent Scott last season, the Owls' rooters—or is it hooters?—are looking forward to seeing less of him in 1990-91. Scott dropped 25 pounds over the summer and returned to campus at a streamlined 245. That should make him more agile—which, considering that the heavier version was named the best freshman in the conference last season, is encouraging news for Rice. Scott averaged 8.2 rebounds and broke the SWC scoring record for freshmen with a 18.8-point average against league competition. If he improves, the Owls could be in line for their first winning season since 1970-71.

The lighter frame shouldn't hinder Scott's style. Nor should it prevent him from showing the kind of persistence that he displayed last season against Georgetown when the Hoyas' 6'10" Alonzo Mourning and 7'1" Dikembe Mutombo blocked six of his shots, only to watch Scott grab each rejection and try again. A fourth-place finish in the conference isn't out of the question for Rice, but only if Scott proves that less is truly more.

The Owls and the rest of the SWC will be hard-pressed to overtake the league's big three—Arkansas, Texas and Houston. The Cougars lost forward Carl Herrera, who is skipping his senior season to play in Spain, leaving them without a dominant player. They have several good ones, however, including guard Byron Smith.

Baylor, with a pair of impressive juniors, guard David Wesley and forward Kelvin Chalmers, is on the rise and should battle Rice for fourth. The outlook isn't as bright at TCU, which will have a hard time replacing forward Craig Sibley, its best all-around player in 1989-90. The new coach at Texas A&M, Kermit Davis, will probably need a year to get his bearings—not to mention more talent—but he has more to work with than John Shumate at SMU. The Mustangs' top returning scorer, sophomore guard Gerald Lewis, scored only 7.9 points a game last season.

There are signs of life at Texas Tech, where the Red Raiders, winless in SWC play in 1989-90, might even win a couple of league games this season. Hey, it's a start.