Louisiana (15-13) at North Texas (15-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UNT Coliseum (10,032) -- Denton, Texas. Television: CSS. Home Record: Louisiana 10-3, UNT 10-3. Away Record: Louisiana 4-9, UNT 4-7. Neutral Record: Louisiana 1-1, UNT 1-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 9-5, UNT 8-5. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 18-15.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Sun Belt Conference teams separated by just a half game in the standings square off this afternoon, as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns visit Denton to take on the North Texas Mean Green.
Louisiana has had a solid season overall at 15-13 and the team is tied with Denver for second place in the Sun Belt Conference West Division standings with a 9-5 league ledger. The Cajuns have slipped a bit of late, dropping two of their last three, including a crucial 77-52 decision to Denver on Thursday.
North Texas has 15 wins overall as well and is a half game behind Louisiana in the West Division with an 8-5 conference mark. The Mean Green have won two of their last three games, and made easy work of ULM on Thursday in an 86-51 blowout victory.
Louisiana leads the all-time series with North Texas, 18-15, although the Mean Green have won 10 of the last 14 meetings. Still, the Cajuns have taken the last two.
Louisiana is one of only four Sun Belt teams with a positive scoring margin (+2.0), and the team has put together good numbers at both the offensive (69.5 ppg) and defensive (67.5 ppg) ends of the court. The Cajuns had one of their worst games of the season however against Denver the last time out, connecting on just 34 percent of their field goal attempts while allowing Denver to make good on 59.2 percent of its shots overall. Darshawn McClellan was the only Cajun player to tally double-digit points with 10, his third straight game with at least 10 points. Josh Brown leads the team in scoring on the season at 10.5 ppg, but the Cajuns also get contributions from Kadeem Coleby (9.9 ppg), McClellan (9.3 ppg) and J.J. Thomas (9.2 ppg). All four of Louisiana's top scorers also grab at least 5.0 rpg, and as a team it owns the third-best rebounding margin in the conference (+3.4).
North Texas is led by its star forward, Tony Mitchell. The freshman is in the midst of a monster season and in league games he leads the Sun Belt in scoring (17.4 ppg), rebounding (11.8 rpg), three-point percentage (.533) and blocks (3.5 bpg), while ranking second in field goal percentage (.602). Mitchell, the only freshman in the country to average a double-double on the year, was recently named a finalist for the Lou Henson Award as the nation's top mid- major player. The phenom continued his assault on the rest of the conference in the recent win over ULM, tallying 18 points, 15 boards and six blocks, marking the third time in five games he recorded at least that many points, rebounds and blocks. The Mean Green's supporting cast has been decimated since Chris Jones (14.1 ppg) and Jordan Williams (10.9 ppg) were ruled academically ineligible last month, but Alzee Williams has stepped up by averaging 17.3 points over the last four games.
With the teams so close in the standings and priority seeding for the conference tournament on the line, both teams are sure to bring their A-game. North Texas has been impressive at home and Mitchell has been unstoppable of late, giving the Mean Green the advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 76, Louisiana 68
02/18 10:43:53 ET