IUPUI (2-2) vs. North Texas (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site:John Paul Jones Arena (14,593) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: IUPUI 1-1, NT 1-0. Away Record: IUPUI 0-1, NT 0-1. Neutral Record: IUPUI 0-1, NT 1-1. Conference Record: IUPUI 0-0, NT 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green have rebounded from a slow start and they will look to carry that momentum with them to Charlottesville for an NIT Season Tip-Off consolation round game against the IUPUI Jaguars at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Jaguars also come in with a .500 record after dropping a 79-72 decision to Bradley in their fourth game of the season on Saturday. Second-year head coach Todd Howard's team also lost to a nationally ranked opponent as it was dismantled by Michigan. However, it managed to knock off Utah Valley and Bowling Green by double-digit margins as well. IUPUI has been streaky on the offensive end early on.
There was a lot of hype surrounding North Texas coming into the season after it returned its superstar from last season's 18-14 squad. Last season's head coach, Johnny Jones, turned that success into the same position on LSU's grander stage. Tony Benford moved into Jones's vacated office after serving as the associate head coach at Marquette in 2011-2012. Benford's debut as a head coach resulted in an expectedly lopsided loss to Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays, but many began to question his ability after NT lost to Alabama Huntsville, a Division II program, in a Preseason NIT game a week ago. The Mean Green have come roaring back from their 0-2 start with back-to-back wins over Lamar (74-59) and Cameron (78-49).
This will be the first time North Texas and IUPUI collide on the hardwood. The Mean Green are 1-1 versus South Dakota State, which is the only Summit League program they have ever played.
The Jaguars are a difficult team to prepare for as they do not shoot at a consistent rate from the floor. After making only 34.9 percent of its field goals at Michigan, IUPUI scorched the nets by draining 29-of-48 attempts from the field versus Bowling Green. It then dropped back down to 41 percent shooting from the floor in a loss to Bradley. Mitchell Patton is pacing IUPUI with 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, but John Hart and Greg Rice are capable scorers as well. Hart hit 4-of-6 attempts from distance on his way to a career- high 26 points his last time out.
The Mean Green began the season with a horrendous 51-point outing at Creighton due to a terrible 2-of-16 conversion rate from beyond the arc. Although the three-point shooting has not improved very much (23.7 percent), the team is now averaging 69.5 ppg. As expected, sophomore center Tony Mitchell is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with averages of 14.3 points and 8.8 boards per game. Mitchell, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the next NBA Draft, decided to return to school despite Jones's departure. He is not a one-man team however, as the talented trio of Jordan Williams (13 ppg), Chris Jones (11 ppg, 6 apg), and Alzee Williams (10 ppg) are playing well around him.
The Mean Green will be very difficult to take down if they manage to keep the ball rolling. Howard will have an impossible time trying to find a player on his roster to shut down Mitchell, who should be able to lock down Patton all on his own. The North Texas role players need to take advantage of their open looks, but if they do it will surely lead to a triumph over the Jaguars.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 76, IUPUI 71
11/19 10:38:57 ET