FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 5-4, FAU 6-2. Away Record: UNT 0-7, FAU 3-7. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, FAU 1-0. Conference Record: UNT 2-6, FAU 5-3. Series Record: North Texas leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: Still trying for their first true road win of the season, the North Texas Mean Green have made the trek to Boca Raton for Saturday night's Sun Belt Conference clash with the Florida Atlantic Owls.
Since winning back-to-back games in mid-December, North Texas has floundered with losses in six of its last eight. The Mean Green began their current tour of the Sunshine State on Thursday with a contest against FIU, and they were handed a 70-64 defeat to fall to 2-6 in conference and 7-12 overall.
FAU has won four of its last five games to surge above .500 both in conference action (5-3) and overall (10-9). The Owls hosted Troy on Thursday night and came away with an 80-59 win in one of their most impressive performances of the season. The triumph improved their home record to 6-2.
North Texas leads the all-time series with FAU, 5-3, but the Owls won last season's matchup at home, 86-81, in double-overtime.
The Mean Green trailed FIU by as many as 18 points in the second half, and while they battled all the way back to make it a four-point game with just over a minute to play, they would get no closer. North Texas was anchored by a career-best performance from Roger Franklin, who shot 11-of-15 from the floor for 29 points, while also adding eight rebounds and three steals. Niko Stojiljkovic and Alzee Williams each netted 13 points in the setback. Tony Mitchell is usually the team's leading scorer with 13.8 ppg, but he went without a point on the night. The silver lining to Mitchell's night was his four blocks, as he became the school's all-time leader in blocked shots (123) in less than two full seasons of work. The sophomore forward now sits at 2.7 bpg to go along with 8.6 rpg, although the overall output for the preseason pick to be named the Sun Belt Player of the Year has been disappointing. Jordan Williams (11.2 ppg), Alzee Williams (10.7 ppg) and Franklin (10.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are all consistent contributors for the Mean Green, which scores 66.9 ppg on only 40.7 percent accuracy from the field. They rarely get much from their bench however, as only one other player averages more than four points per contest.
Although FAU led by just four points at the half in Thursday night's game, it took control after intermission by draining 56.3 percent of its field goal attempts as it cruised to the 21-point victory. For the 15th consecutive game, Greg Gantt was the Owls' leading scorer, and he made good on 10-of-21 shots from the field for 23 points. Stefan Moody added 15 points and five assists, Pablo Bertone made all four of his attempts from beyond the arc en route to 14 points, and Jackson Trapp came off the bench to net 11 points and hand out five assists. Gantt is the Sun Belt's leading scorer with 22.5 ppg, which is enough to rank him fourth in the nation as well. The majority of the 6-foot-2 guard's production comes from 3-point range, where he has gone 54-of-131 (.412). Moody tacks on 14.4 ppg and Bertone 8.9 ppg, but neither shoot better than 42 percent from the floor. FAU's offensive output as a team has been modest at best, as it shoots 41.3 percent from the field for 65.2 ppg, which is 1.8 ppg fewer than its opponents.
Two of the biggest stars in the Sun Belt go head-to-head in this matchup, but while Mitchell's presence hasn't helped his team in the win column, Gantt has been a driving force in FAU's recent hot streak. Expect the Owls to take care of business and give the home fans something to really cheer about.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida Atlantic 68, North Texas 63
01/19 11:40:49 ET
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