North Texas (6-10) at Arkansas-Little Rock (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 4-4, UALR 8-1. Away Record: UNT 0-5, UALR 0-6. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: UNT 1-4, UALR 3-3. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 16-9.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green will attempt to win their first true road game of the season on Thursday night when they pay a visit to the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans for a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
The season has been a disappointing one for North Texas, as it has lost 10 of its first 16 matchups. The road has been especially tough for the Mean Green in recent weeks, as they have dropped four of their last five games, most recently falling at home to ULM last Saturday, 81-68, to slip to 1-4 in conference.
UALR's campaign got off to a fast start, as it opened up by winning eight of its first 12 games, but since then it has fallen hard. The Trojans are losers of four of their last five, which includes a 67-64 road defeat at the hands of Troy last Saturday. The good news is that they have played very well on their home floor, going 8-1 at Jack Stephens Center.
The Trojans lead the all-time series with North Texas, 16-9, but the Mean Green have won three straight games played in Little Rock.
Although they shot an impressive 49 percent from the field the last time out, the Mean Green still suffered a disappointing 13-point home defeat by allowing ULM to drain greater than 58 percent of its shots overall. Justin Patton and Jordan Williams each scored 16 points in the setback, while Tony Mitchell tallied 15 points and six rebounds. North Texas has not been very strong at the offensive end of the court this season, scoring 68.0 ppg on just 40.6 percent field goal efficiency, which all but spoils a solid defensive effort that yields a .419 shooting percentage against. Despite his team's struggles, Tony Mitchell continues to be one of the SBC's top forwards, averaging 14.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg and 1.3 bpg, while also showing versatility with a team- high 16 3-pointers. Jordan Williams (11.7 ppg) and Alzee Williams (10.3 ppg) have helped pick up the slack for Chris Jones (10.2 ppg, 5.0 apg), who is out with a broken foot.
UALR actually led Troy by 10 points with 11:21 left to play last weekend, but it faltered down the stretch and was eventually saddled with the three-point loss. The Trojans shot an impressive 50 percent from the floor, but it was hindered by a 6-of-14 showing at the foul line. Will Neighbour and Josh Hagins put together solid games with 14 points apiece, while Leroy Isler chipped in with 13. Like UNT, UALR hasn't been a very explosive team at the offensive end (.425 FG percentage, 68.1 ppg), but it is able to have a winning record by holding opponents to the fourth-fewest points in the league (65.9 ppg). Neighbour has been the team's most consistent performer (11.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) with John Gillon (10.8 ppg) right on his heels, but UALR is mostly reliant on a deep rotation of players, with eight guys averaging at least five points per contest.
North Texas has as much talent as any team in the Sun Belt, but it has yet to realize its full potential, especially away from home. Expect UALR to register its 10th win with a balanced all-around effort.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 71, North Texas 64
01/10 10:37:16 ET