North Texas (7-11) at FIU (8-8)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000) -- Miami, Florida.
Television: None. Home Record: UNT 5-4, FIU 4-2. Away Record: UNT 0-6, FIU
4-6. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, FIU 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 2-5, FIU 3-4.
Series Record: North Texas leads, 11-3.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green will try once again to secure their
first road win of the season, as they pull into Miami for Thursday's Sun Belt
Conference showdown with the FIU Panthers.
The Mean Green's disappointing 0-6 road record has been a big factor in their
underachieving season, as they sit at just 7-11 overall. They had lost five of
their previous six heading into their last game versus South Alabama, and
although they came away with a 66-56 victory, they are still just 2-5 in
After a lackluster 4-7 start to the season, FIU had won four straight games,
culminating in a 66-64 triumph at Arkansas State on Jan. 10, to surge above
.500 for the first time all season. The Panthers ended that streak with their
first loss of 2013 on Saturday, dropping an 88-76 decision at Arkansas-Little
Rock to fall to 3-4 in the Sun Belt.
North Texas has won 11 of the previous 14 matchups against FIU all-time,
including four of the last five.
North Texas opened up a 14-point halftime lead over South Alabama the last
time out, and never looked back en route to the 10-point win. UNT shot just
35.3 percent from the floor, but it made up for it with an outstanding showing
from the foul line (29-of-34), and by putting forth one of its best defensive
performances of the season in holding the Jaguars to 28.1 percent field goal
efficiency. All five Mean Green starters scored in double figures, paced by 14
points apiece from P.J. Hardwick and Tony Mitchell (11 rebounds, four blocks).
On the season, UNT ranks in the bottom half of the Sun Belt in both scoring
offense (67.1 ppg) and scoring defense (68.1 ppg), but it has one of the
league's most explosive players in Mitchell, who tallies 14.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg,
2.6 bpg and 1.3 spg while stretching the floor with a team-high 17 3-pointers.
Jordan Williams (11.6 ppg), Alzee Williams (10.5 ppg), and Roger Franklin (9.1
ppg, 5.8 rpg) have been solid complementary pieces.
FIU put together a solid game on the road last Saturday, shooting 11-of-23
from 3-point range and 21-of-24 from the foul line, but it ultimately couldn't
outlast UALR and its .592 field goal percentage as it was handed a 12-point
loss. It put together a great all-around offensive effort with six players
scoring in double figures, led by 14 points by Malik Smith. Scoring points
hasn't been the issue for the Panthers, who rank third in the conference in
points per game at 69.8 ppg, but they cannot stop anyone at the defensive end
as teams net 72.5 ppg against them. They are led by one of the most efficient
players in the league in Tymell Murphy, who nets a conference-best 58.7
percent of his field goal attempts for 14.9 ppg while also putting up team-
highs in rebounds (7.5 rpg) and blocks (1.2 bpg). Smith (14.4 ppg) does the
majority of his damage from 3-point range (49-of-128, .383), while Jerome
Frink pitches in 10.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg.
UNT has talent, but has yet to show the ability to conquer a road test. On the
other side, FIU has been far from consistent, but it showed plenty of promise
on its road trip last week. A return home should bode well for the Panthers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 75, North Texas 70
01/17 10:36:58 ET