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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,563) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 5-6, ASU 10-2. Away Record: UNT 1-8, ASU 3-6. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 3-9, ASU 7-5. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 20-18.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas State Red Wolves will close out a three-game homestand on Saturday night, as they entertain the North Texas Mean Green in a Sun Belt Conference showdown at the Convocation Center.
At 8-15 overall and 3-9 in conference, North Texas has undoubtedly been one of the most disappointing teams in the conference this season. The Mean Green are currently losers of three straight games, with their most recent defeat coming at Louisiana on Thursday (105-74) to fall to 1-8 on the road.
Meanwhile, Arkansas State has been impressive with a 13-8 mark, including a 7-5 record in league play. The Red Wolves won both of their previous games on this homestand, dismissing Florida Atlantic on Jan. 26 (63-38) and taking care of business versus South Alabama on Thursday (74-62).
North Texas has won two straight games over Arkansas State, including a 76-72 decision in last season's Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals, but the Red Wolves still hold a 20-18 advantage in the all-time series.
The Mean Green put forth a stellar offensive performance in their latest contest, shooting 49.1 percent from the field, but they could not overcome an outstanding 38-of-71 (.535) shooting night for Louisiana as they dropped the 31-point road decision. Jordan Williams was spectacular in defeat, shooting 12-of-17 from the field for a career-high 31 points, his third straight game of at least 20 points. Alzee Williams added 14 points off the bench, and Roger Franklin chipped in with 10. Tony Mitchell tallied only seven points, but he is typically the team's top producer with 13.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg, while also being a difference-maker at the defensive end with 2.8 bpg and 1.1 spg. Jordan Williams' hot streak lately has allowed him to inch closer to Mitchell for the team-lead in scoring with 13.0 ppg, while Franklin (10.8 ppg) and Alzee Williams (10.3 ppg) are also reliable options. Despite the presence of four solid scorers, UNT ranks in the lower half of the SBC in scoring (66.4 ppg).
Arkansas State took a 5-4 lead early in the first half on Thursday night and it never surrendered the advantage the rest of the way en route to an eight- point victory. It was far from its best shooting performance, as it made less than 37 percent of its attempts from the floor, but it took full advantage of South Alabama's foul trouble by draining 30-of-43 at the free-throw line. Trey Finn and Rakeem Dickerson each tallied 14 points in the triumph, with Dickerson putting in extra work at the charity stripe (14-of-16). Ed Townsel scored 11 points, and Marcus Hooten added 10 points and five assists. On the season, only first-place Middle Tennessee boasts a better scoring margin it the Sun Belt than the Red Wolves' +6.3 mark. Townsel is the team's leading scorer with 14.6 ppg, albeit behind a modest 38.3 percent from the field. Brandon Peterson is a force in the low post with 11.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, and more than a block and a steal per contest, while Finn brings 9.5 ppg to the table.
North Texas has the talent to compete with anyone in the conference, but it has yet to play up to its potential this season, and not much is expected to change at the Convocation Center where Arkansas State has won 10 of 12 tilts.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 74, North Texas 65
02/02 10:45:12 ET