GAME NOTES: North Texas makes its Conference-USA debut on Thursday night, as the Mean Green entertain the talented Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
North Texas, which previously spent 13 seasons in the Sun Belt Conference, comes in riding a four-game win streak after upending UC Riverside, 76-72, last Saturday. Brandan Walton and Maurice Aniefiok combined to score 27 points, while Colin Voss contributed 10 rebounds and eight points.
The Mean Green hit 44.8 percent of their shots from the floor, including 4- of-8 from beyond the arc, to claim a 33-27 lead at halftime and they made just enough free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
North Texas has six players averaging at least 7.7 ppg. Alzee Williams leads all scorers with 14.4 ppg, while Jordan Williams adds 10.7 ppg to go with his team-best 6.3 rpg.
If the Mean Green are to open their new conference schedule with a bang and post their first five-game win streak in three years, they must do so against one of the premier defensive teams in the country.
Southern Miss is giving up a stingy 62.1 ppg, and its 139 steals ranks eighth- best in the nation. The Golden Eagles are also outrebounding foes by nearly seven boards per game (35.6-28.7).
After rolling over Drexel, 66-49, last Friday, the Golden Eagles stretched their winning streak to four games. Michael Craig posted a double-double consisting of 10 points and 11 rebounds in the latest win, while Aaron Brown added 11 points and Jerrold Brooks and Jeremiah Eason each tallied 10 for Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles dominated on the inside, outscoring Drexel, 28-12, in the paint while holding a 52-24 advantage on the glass.
Like North Texas, Southern Miss doesn't rely on one scorer and yet still averages a respectable 73.1 ppg. Neil Watson, who ranks ninth in the country in free-throw percentage (.915), leads the team in scoring at 11.8 ppg, while Daveon Boardingham and Craig chip in with 10.5 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
This is the first time these programs are meeting since 1989, although they met 22 times before then. UNT did not bite off more than it can chew by joining the C-USA, especially now that the squad is fully healthy, but the Mean Green will likely be overmatched in their conference opener by a better and more experienced Southern Miss club.
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