North Texas (9-18) at Troy (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (6,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: UNT 6-7, Troy 8-4. Away Record: UNT 1-10, Troy 2-10. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: UNT 4-12, Troy 6-9. Series Record: North Texas leads, 9-3.
GAME NOTES: A Sun Belt Conference showdown is on tap for Saturday night, as the Troy Trojans play host to the North Texas Mean Green.
North Texas has been one of the Sun Belt's most disappointing teams this year, as it has regressed to just 9-18 overall and 4-12 in league play after advancing all the way to the conference tournament championship game last season. The Mean Green have dropped six of their last seven games, with their most recent setback coming at ULM on Thursday, 85-73.
Troy bounced back nicely from a blowout loss at first-place Middle Tennessee last Saturday (93-41) to capture a 69-61 home win over FIU on Thursday night, improving to 11-15 overall and 6-9 in league play. The victory was Don Maestri's 499th in his illustrious career, and he is attempting to become the 22nd active Division I coach to register at least 500 wins -- only six of them accomplishing the feat with just one team.
Despite a 29-point, 15-rebound performance by Tony Mitchell, North Texas still lost to Troy at home on Jan. 3, 76-59. The Mean Green lead the all-time series though, 9-3.
The Mean Green took a nine-point advantage into the locker room at halftime against ULM, but they lost control after the break, allowing the Warhawks to make 63.3 percent of their field goal attempts over the final 20 minutes as they were eventually handed a 12-points loss. Roger Franklin and Jordan Williams were both impressive in defeat, scoring 22 points apiece, with Franklin adding 11 rebounds and four blocks to his stat line. Mitchell tallied 10 points, eight boards and five blocks, and Alzee Williams came off the bench to net 10 points as well. Despite the presence of four players who average in double figures, North Texas ranks in the lower-half of the league in scoring with just 66.7 ppg. Jordan Williams (13.7 ppg) has been one of the SBC's hottest scorers over the past seven games (20.4 ppg), which has allowed him overtake Mitchell (13.5 ppg) for the team lead. Mitchell brings team-highs in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and blocks (2.7 bpg) to the table, while Franklin (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Alzee Williams (10.8 ppg) are also consistent performers.
Despite leading the majority of the time against FIU, Troy found itself down by a point (54-53) with under four minutes to play, but it answered with a 16-7 run to close out the game as it claimed the hard-fought home victory. The Trojans pieced together one of their best shooting performances of the season, making 25-of-51 from the field (.490) and 13-of-17 from the foul line (.765). Hunter Williams shot 7-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, on his way to 20 points. Emil Jones tallied 17 points and nine rebounds, Deonata Jethroe had 11 points, and Antoine Myers dished out six assists. The quality offensive performance was far from the norm for Troy, which scores only 62.3 ppg on a league-low 40.1 percent field goal shooting. Jones is not only the team's top scorer with 11.8 ppg, but he contributes across the board with 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.7 spg as well. Williams is the only other player to score in double figures with 10.1 ppg, adding a team-high 3.3 apg for good measure.
UNT's season reached new lows with the loss on Thursday night, and despite its talented roster, the team continues to disappoint. Expect the Mean Green's road woes to continue in this one as coach Maestri claims his milestone win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 66, North Texas 63
02/16 10:34:06 ET