GAME THREAD: North Texas vs FAU - 02/11/12 @ 7:00PM
GAME THREAD: North Texas vs FAU - 02/11/12 @ 7:00PM
What: North Texas (14-10, 7-4) vs FAU (10-14, 6-5)
When: Saturday, Feb. 11th @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Arena
Live Video: None
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
Mean Green Team Site: Here
G Alzee Williams 9.3 ppg
G Brandan Walton 8.0 ppg
G Roger Franklin 8.7 ppg
F Jacob Holmen 4.4 ppg
F Tony Mitchell 15.7 ppg
G Ray Taylor 9.2 ppg
G Alex Tucker 4.4 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.7 ppg
F Jordan McCoy 4.2 ppg
F Kelvin Penn 2.6 ppg
UNT is on top 2-5 overall but has played at FAU Arena just one time. The teams met twice last season with the Owls wining big 72-55 at The Super Pit, and the Mean Green returning favor in a 78-64 defeat over FAU in the 2011 Sun Belt Tournament a month later.
North Texas at a Glance:
Just in case you haven't heard about UNT freshman forward Tony Mitchell, now you have. And, you will probably hear about him some more.
WKU's Courtney Lee was the last Sun Belt player to get the nod at the "highest level" when he was picked 22nd overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2008 NBA Draft. It looks highly likely that Mitchell will follow suit next year, potentially going as a first round pick according to draft sites and even FAU's Mike Jarvis.
"Tony Mitchell is one of the top players in the country, he's probably going to be a lottery pick", Jarvis said during his weekly radio show on ESPN760. "He's the one guy in our league that I would say is NBA material."
Mitchell is posting some serious numbers at 15.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 61.6% FG. He is technically atop the league in all categories, but is not being recognized due to the Sun Belt's 75% participation rule for consideration. Of note, he topped those figures in the Mean Green's 68-61 win over Florida International on Thursday night in Miami with 17 points and 12 grabs.
Two back court players to keep an eye on are sophomore Alzee Williams (6-4, 175) and freshman Chris Jones (6-2, 195). Williams missed 2010-11 season due to a knee injury prior to the season opener, but has led the squad three times in scoring including a career high 29 point effort against Middle Tennessee in a close 66-68 loss at The Super Pit. Jones sports 11 contests as the Mean Green's scoring leader on the season including a 31 point display against BIG12 member Texas Tech in UNT's 64-69 setback to the Red Raiders.
North Texas defends the triple well at 32.9% allowed (3rd SBC), and trails only to South Alabama in SBC rebounding margin at +4.4 rpg (2nd).
The squad was picked to wind up 3rd in the West by league coaches in the Sun Belt's preseason poll, and placed forwards Mitchell (2nd Team) and Kendrick Hogans (3rd Team) on the honors listing.
FAU at a Glance:
Thanks to some clutch free throws from senior guard Shavar Richardson with just over a second to play, the Owls put their two game slide to a halt on Thursday night in dramatic fashion with a 72-71 victory over Denver before a small but spirited crowd at FAU Arena.
"I didnít want to lose the game for us", Richardson said. "So it felt real good."
Florida Atlantic's slide past the traditionally pesky Pioneers may not have been the prettiest of accomplishments, but a win is a win, and they will assuredly take it with no complaints. Unlike many contests for the 2011-12 season, points came fast and furious early on, before cooling a bit thereafter.
Despite Denver's outrageous 81.0% FG connect rate in the second frame, in the end FAU's 44.4% effort would be enough for the column on the left, and that mark appears to be a relevant figure to note considering they are now 8-1 on the season when doing that or better.
And, some records were set in the process as well. Crowd favorite Alex Tucker is now the Owls' all-time leading disher with with 507 assists after posting four for the contest. He was quick to give credit where it is due.
"Coming off every game since my freshman year, Iíve had guys put the ball in the basket for me", said Tucker. "The easiest thing is getting them the ball where they want it and then they do all the hard work by putting it in the basket. Itís a team accomplishment."
Meanwhile, junior Greg Gantt moved into second place all-time for Florida Atlantic in three pointers made after a 4-of-7 showing from long range.
As for historical relevance remaining on tap immediately, Ray Taylor is 10 points away from joining the 1,000 club.
The Owls are 1-4 against North Texas under Coach Jarvis, with contests having been decided by an average margin of 12.6 points.
FAU's most tenured back court members have done relatively well overall offensively versus UNT. Taylor (14.7 ppg) and Greg Gantt (14.3 ppg) are each in double figures on average, with Richardson (7.4 ppg) and Tucker (7.0 ppg) having produced moderate single digit results.
After swatting away two Denver attempts on Thursday, freshman forward Kelvin Penn currently sits 6th in the league in blocks with 1.6 per outing.
Taylor takes 2nd in dishes with 5.0 per game.
Owl's Nest Prediction
The spread opened at -6.5 for Florida Atlantic before adjusting to an average of -5. Looking at the numbers, that seems a bit much.
The Mean Green have arguably the second best front court in the Sun Belt thanks to Mitchell, but the rest of the match-ups and projected tempo actually work well for FAU providing they continue to make some baskets and don't hit a funk.
Although the series results don't support the notion, the Owls enjoy a 2.9 ppg margin of victory against teams at home on the year. Accordingly, we'll take them in (another) close one.