South Alabama (8-7) at North Texas (6-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Super Pit (10,500) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: USA 3-3, UNT 4-4. Away Record: USA 5-2, UNT 0-6. Neutral Record: USA 0-2, UNT 2-1. Conference Record: USA 5-2, UNT 1-5. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 13-7.
GAME NOTES: Two of the top players in the Sun Belt Conference will go head-to- head when the South Alabama Jaguars and North Texas Mean Green collide for a league match at The Super Pit.
The Jaguars are coming off of a 91-89 double overtime victory at Louisiana that helped them improve to 5-2 in true road games, 8-7 overall, and 5-2 in Sun Belt action. Jeff Price is just five games into his tenure as South Alabama's interim coach since taking over for Ronnie Arrow after an abrupt retirement. The Jaguars are the type of team that prefers to go up and down as they average 71.6 points per game to their opposition's combined mark of 70.0 ppg.
North Texas has not been able to get on track this season after being tagged as one of the best in the conference prior to the season. The Mean Green suffered a 67-53 setback at Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday to drop to 6-11 overall and just 1-5 in league games. Coach Tony Benford's first season at the helm has not been one to remember so far, as his team is being outscored by 1.6 points per game.
Although South Alabama owns a 13-7 lead in its all-time series versus North Texas, the Mean Green have come out of the last three encounters on top including a 78-73 overtime thriller on Jan. 5, 2012 in the most recent meeting.
Mychal Ammons put USA ahead for good in its double-overtime thriller versus Louisiana when he slammed the ball through the rim with 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime session. Ammons came off the bench to register a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while Augustine Rubit filled up the stat sheet with 26 points, nine boards, and three blocks. Dre Conner and Antoine Allen both produced 19 points, the latter accounting for nine rebounds, in what was a collective effort. Rubit is one of the most consistent and talented players in the SBC once again. The 6-7, 230-pound junior forward is producing 19.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per outing after recording six consecutive double-doubles prior to the Louisiana tilt.
The Mean Green built a five-point edge on the scoreboard over the course of the first half versus the Trojans, but UALR came out hot in the second half, connecting on 60 percent of its field goal tries to bury UNT. UALR converted 17 North Texas turnovers into 25 points and outscored the Mean Green in the paint, 30-16. Alzee Williams and Tony Mitchell each finished with 13 points for the UNT. Mitchell received a handful of accolades prior to the season, including SBC Preseason Player of the Year and Preseason All-American honors, after electing to return to school over jumping to the NBA where he was a projected lottery pick. Although the sophomore forward is pacing the team with 14.6 points, 8.9 boards, and 2.5 blocks per outing, UNT is performing poorly as a unit.
The battle inside between the SBC's marquee forwards could provide an intense back-and-forth. Rubit has been the more productive of the two, but it will be interesting to see if he can fill it up with the athletic Mitchell attempting to lock him up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 73, South Alabama 71
01/12 10:50:51 ET