Men's College Basketball
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North Texas (13-10) at F-I-U (7-15)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000) -- Miami, Florida. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: North Texas 9-3, FIU 1-6. Away Record: North Texas 3-6, FIU 5-7. Neutral Record: North Texas 1-1, FIU 1-2. Conference Record: North Texas 6-4, FIU 4-6. Series Record: North Texas leads, 10-3.

GAMES NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green and the FIU Golden Panthers meet for the only time this season in a Sun Belt Conference tilt at U.S. Century Bank Arena this evening.

This will be the 14th all-time meeting between these schools. North Texas leads the series with 10 wins against FIU including wins in back-to-back games and four of the last five.

North Texas has lost two of its last three outings to drop to 6-4 in conference play after starting the league schedule at 5-2. The three-game stretch has dropped the Mean Green a half game behind Denver for third place in the Sun Belt West Division. North Texas will remain in Florida for a matchup with Florida Atlantic next time out.

FIU has won back-to-back games for the first time this season entering play. The small winning stretch comes after the Golden Panthers opened 2012 with losses in five of six matchups. FIU is now tied for third in the Sun Belt East Division with Western Kentucky and will host Denver in its next matchup.

The Mean Green have been off since last Thursday when they took a heartbreaking 68-66 loss at home to conference leading Middle Tennessee. North Texas trailed by 15 with 11:21 remaining in the game but ripped off a 17-3 run to cut the deficit to 58-57 but was unable to hit on three shots in the final minute and fell just short in the comeback bid.

North Texas has one of the best scoring teams in the Sun Belt in notching 70.6 points per game which is second only to Middle Tennessee in the league. The Mean Green's shooting percentage has not been as prolific with the team converting on 43.1 percent of its shots from the field. North Texas is a young team and has relied heavily on a trio of freshmen this season. Freshman forward Tony Mitchell missed the first nine games of the season but has since been the team's leading scorer and rebounder pouring in 15.6 points and tearing down 9.6 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Chris Jones is the teams second scoring option netting 14.1 per game while also handling the point for the Mean Green in dishing out a team-high 4.3 assists per game. The mark is also third in the conference. Guard Jordan Williams (10.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is the third part of the prolific Mean Green rookie trio.

The second win came against in-state rival Florida Atlantic for FIU. The Golden Panthers took a 76-56 decision after trailing by one at the break. FIU scored the first eight points of the second half and never looked back riding a 15-of-29 shooting performance in the last 20 minutes to coast to the victory.

The offensive effort for the Golden Panthers in the win was an explosion for a squad that is averaging only 62.1 points per game. FIU has scored more than 70 now only three times this season and is 2-1 in those games. Detrimental to the offense is the fact that FIU struggles to move the ball effectively. The Golden Panthers average only 9.1 assists per game as a team which is better than only five other teams in the country. Since returning from an injury that made him miss seven games at the end of December into early January, senior guard DeJuan Wright has returned as the leading scorer. Wright is averaging 16.1 points per game on the season and has also been effective on the boards collecting a team-high 7.6 per contest. Guards Phil Taylor (14.2 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Jeremy Allen (13.7 ppg, 41.2 3P%) along with forward Dominique Ferguson (10.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg) have been the significant contributors for FIU that has no other scorer putting in more than four points per game.

With Wright continuing to improve since coming back from injury, FIU is a much better team. However the Golden Panthers are still not as good offensively as North Texas even with Wright.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 71, FIU 67

02/09 10:40:08 ET

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