Florida Atlantic (12-16) at North Texas (10-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 21, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Super Pit (10,040) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 8-4, UNT 6-7. Away Record: FAU 3-12, UNT 2-10. Neutral Record: FAU 1-0, UNT 2-1. Conference Record: FAU 7-10, UNT 5-12. Series Record: North Texas leads, 6-3.
GAME NOTES: A pair of disappointing Sun Belt Conference teams are set to square off at The Super Pit on Thursday night, as the North Texas Mean Green play host to the Florida Atlantic Owls.
FAU got off to a solid start this season, as it was situated at 10-9 following a Jan. 17 win over Troy, but since then it has plummeted in the standings with losses in seven of its last nine games, most recently dropping a heart-breaker at Louisiana last Saturday, 58-57. Most of the Owls' struggles have come on the road, as they have won only three of 15 true away games.
North Texas has been one of the few Sun Belt teams to piece together a less impressive season than FAU, as it sports a disappointing 10-18 overall record and a 5-12 league ledger. Things have been looking up lately for the Mean Green however, as they have won two of their last three bouts, including a 63-61 decision at Troy last Saturday.
North Texas outlasted FAU in overtime on Jan. 19, 61-59, to improve its lead in the all-time series to 6-3.
Trailing by 10 points in the second half of its latest game, FAU mounted a comeback and held a lead late only to fall victim to a game-winning field goal by Louisiana in the waning seconds. The loss spoiled a great defensive effort (holding Louisiana to 35.1 percent from the field), but the team had a poor showing itself from the floor (.350) as well as the foul line (.571). Greg Gantt paced all scorers with 18 points, but he had one of his worst shooting performances of his career, going a dismal 6-of-24 from the field. Pablo Bertone added 13 points off the bench, and Jordan McCoy ripped down a career- high 17 rebounds. Gantt is the Sun Belt's top scorer, netting 21.4 ppg thanks in large part to making 78 3-pointers at nearly a 40 percent clip. Stefan Moody pitches in with 14.4 ppg, but he and Gantt have combined for 153 turnovers compared to only 96 assists. As a team, FAU ranks in the bottom-half of the conference in both scoring offense (64.5 ppg) and scoring defense (67.8 ppg).
In a game that featured 16 ties and 12 lead changes, North Texas was able to outlast Troy over the weekend. It was one of the strongest shooting performances of the year for the Mean Green, who made 51.1 percent from the floor, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range. Jordan Williams was on fire from beyond the arc, connecting on a career-high seven treys on his way to 25 points. Roger Franklin and Alzee Williams each chipped in 10 points, and Tony Mitchell finished with nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Jordan Williams is the team's top scoring option at 14.1 ppg, and he has been especially great in recent weeks in averaging 18.7 points over the last nine contests. Mitchell contributes 13.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 2.7 bpg, but his season has been a step back from his sensational freshman campaign (14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg). Franklin (11.4 ppg) and Alzee Williams (10.2 ppg) have also been stellar, but even with four quality scorers, the Mean Green ranks seventh in the Sun Belt with a scoring average of 66.6 ppg.
North Texas has the talent to compete with any team in the conference, and it has finally started to show that with some solid wins of late. In front of their home fans, the Mean Green should be able to dismiss an FAU squad that really flounders on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 72, Florida Atlantic 65
02/21 10:32:07 ET