Arkansas State (18-9) at North Texas (11-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Super Pit (10,040) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 13-2, UNT 7-7. Away Record: ASU 5-7, UNT 2-11. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, UNT 2-1. Conference Record: ASU 12-6, UNT 6-13. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 21-18.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green will close out their 2012-13 regular season on Thursday night when they welcome the red-hot Arkansas State Red Wolves to the Super Pit for a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
Arkansas State tied a season-long, four-game win streak last Saturday when it defeated Troy at home, 58-50, and it has now won seven of eight games dating back to late January. The Red Wolves are 18-9 on the season, and at 12-6 in conference, they have clinched their second Sun Belt West Division title in the last three seasons, securing the No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Although North Texas will have a chance to redeem itself in next week's tourney, its regular season has been an unquestioned disappointment, as it sits at 11-19 overall and just 6-13 in league action. After winning back-to- back games over Troy and Florida Atlantic, the Mean Green fell back to their losing ways last Saturday with a 69-57 setback at South Alabama.
ASU snapped a two-game losing streak to the Mean Green with a 75-66 overtime win at home on Feb. 2, and it now leads the all-time series by a 21-18 margin.
The Red Wolves were far from their best the last time out, as they shot less than 41 percent from the field and lost the rebounding battle, 40-36, but their defensive approach held Troy to a lowly 29.2 percent shooting as they held on for the eight-point victory. Brandon Peterson was the spark plug down low, netting 15 points while adding nine rebounds and four blocks. Trey Finn had a perfect night from the foul line (5-of-5) and finished with 13 points. On the season, ASU is a well-balanced team, as it scores 69.7 ppg and allows just 61.9 ppg for an outstanding scoring margin of +7.8, which ranks second to only Middle Tennessee. It also benefits from having the league's top turnover margin (+3.5). Ed Townsel nets a team-high 13.4 ppg, but he shoots only 38.1 percent from the field and has been relegated the a reserve role in recent weeks. Peterson is a nightly double-double threat with 10.9 ppg and 9.7 rpg, adding more than a block and steal per game for good measure. Finn had has his troubles shooting the ball (.370), but still he nets 10.4 ppg.
The Mean Green never once led in their recent bout with South Alabama, shooting a paltry 33.8 percent from the floor (including 1-of-11 from 3-point range) and 47.6 percent from the free-throw line en route to the 12-point setback. Alzee Williams scored 15 points, while Tony Mitchell tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. North Texas has one of the most potent starting lineups in the Sun Belt, as four players average double figures in scoring, but the team still ranks in the lower-half of the conference in both scoring offense (66.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (.412). Its scoring defense (69.2 ppg) doesn't do much to help matters. Jordan Williams scores 13.9 ppg, although he has shot just 6-of-31 from the field (.193) over the past two games. Mitchell is a steady presence in the paint with 13.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 2.7 bpg, but those are rather unspectacular numbers for someone who was named the Preseason SBC Player of the Year. Roger Franklin (11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Alzee Williams (10.9 ppg) are also regular contributors.
North Texas has extra motivation to win on Senior Night, but it has been simply mediocre at the Super Pit this season (7-7), and ASU's inspired play of late will lift it to its fifth straight triumph.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 73, North Texas 68
02/28 10:36:10 ET