Columbia (1-2) vs. North Texas (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 21, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chiles Center (4,852) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: Columbia 1-1, UNT 2-0. Away Record: Columbia 0-1, UNT 0-1. Neutral Record: Columbia 0-0, UNT 0-0. Conference Record: Columbia 0-0, UNT 0-0. Series Record: Columbia leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Columbia Lions travel across the country to take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Chiles Center in Portland, Oregon as they take on the North Texas Mean Green.
The Lions won their first outing of the season back on Nov. 9 versus Maryland- Eastern Shore (73-54), but the team has dropped back-to-back contests since. The latest defeat came at the hands of the second-ranked Michigan State Spartans six days ago in a 62-53 final.
As for the Mean Green, they've taken two of their first three outings of 2013-14, following up a 95-82 loss at Oklahoma 10 days ago with a 92-78 victory versus Nicholls State last Thursday.
The Lions won the only previous meeting between these two squads, a 72-57 final in a round-robin event hosted by Loyola-Marymount back in 2011.
Both of these teams will be playing on Friday and Saturday, trading off opponents as they also match up with Idaho and host Portland.
North Texas led by two at the break against Nicholls State, but the Mean Green shot only 35.0 percent from the floor, so in the second half the team turned that into 59.3 percent accuracy in order to put some distance between themselves and the visitors. In a game that featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, Maurice Aniefiok registered a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, followed by starters Vertrail Vaughns and Alzee Williams with 17 and 16 points, respectively. One major stat that went in favor of the Mean Green was free-throw shooting as the team outscored the competition 39-14.
Shooting 55.9 percent from the floor at the moment, Alzee Williams leads UNT in scoring with 20.7 ppg, followed by Jordan Williams (12.0 ppg) who has done his damage coming off the bench twice. Chris Jones checks in with another 11.3 ppg and paces the program with nine assists, but still this is a group that is scoring 82.0 ppg and taking advantage of less than 11 assists per outing.
Nobody gave the Lions a chance against the then-No. 2 team in the land, but the Columbia players sure thought differently as they remained within single digits when the final buzzer went off at the Breslin Center. Defensively the Lions held MSU to 0-of-7 shooting beyond the arc and only five offensive rebounds, but that still was not enough to overcome 17 turnovers and a 22-8 deficit at the free-throw line. Maodo Lo scored 12 points for the visitors, followed by Alex Rosenberg and Isaac Cohen with 10 points apiece, the latter also clearing nine rebounds.
The Lions are a conservative bunch when it comes to offense, generating just 65.3 ppg, but still that's better than the 62.3 ppg being produced by the competition through three games. The lone double-digit scorer is Grant Mullins with an even 12.0 ppg, stemming from his 61.1 percent shooting from the floor and a perfect 9-of-9 effort at the free-throw line. Mullins is also a top threat out on the perimeter where he's made 5-of-11 chances, just slightly better than Lo and his 6-of-14 accuracy.
As long as Columbia can dictate the pace of this meeting the team definitely has a chance to pull off the win, but the Lions have to keep in mind that after the long trip they have to make quick turnarounds in the next few days.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Columbia 67, North Texas 64
11/21 10:33:20 ET