GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green look to gain some ground in the Conference USA standings as they invade Tudor Fieldhouse for a Lone Star State showdown against the Rice Owls.
The Mean Green are 11-10 overall, including a 2-5 league record after their 94-63 loss at Tulsa on Saturday. North Texas was held under 40 percent shooting from the floor and allowed the Golden Hurricane to connect on 57.1 percent of their field-goal attempts. Coach Tony Benford's team managed to knock down eight shots from beyond the arc against Tulsa and has gone 27-of-64 from 3-point range over the last four games.
Rice has spiraled to a 6-15 overall standing as it has picked up only one win over its past 11 outings. Coach Ben Braun's team was downed, 68-57, by Texas- El Paso on Saturday, which marked the second consecutive setback. The Owls actually took a 30-21 lead into the intermission of their matchup with the Miners. Rice was dominated after the break as it was held to 29.6 percent efficiency from the field over the final 20 minutes by UTEP. The Owls have been awful on the offensive end and failed to reach the 70-point mark in 10 of their past 12 outings.
This will be the 13th meeting in history between these instate rivals on the hardwood. The Mean Green have won the last four matchups to claim a 9-3 all- time series lead. North Texas defeated the Owls, 68-65, on Nov. 23, 2010 in the most recent clash.
In UNT's loss to Tulsa, Jordan Williams scored a team-high 21 points and also accounted for seven rebounds. Brandan Walton contributed 15 points in just 16 minutes of reserve work while Chris Jones tallied 11 points and six assists. Jordan Williams leads the Mean Green in the scoring column with 12.7 ppg, followed by Alzee Williams who contributes 11.6 ppg. The two are the lone members of the Mean Green averaging double-digits in points. Alzee Williams will be looking to bounce back after finishing 0-of-7 from the floor versus Tulsa. Jones runs the show for the team regularly and has racked up 81 assists against 50 turnovers.
Rice tends to settle for outside shots on the offensive end, which has helped it average a C-USA best 8.6 makes from 3-point range per game. The Owls have attempted 540 shots from beyond the arc, which is second only to LA Tech. Austin Ramljak is the team's biggest threat with 3.2 made 3-point field goal attempts per game, which ranks 2nd in C-USA. Ramljak was blanketed by UTEP in his last outing and finished just 1-of-5 from the field for three points. Marcus Jackson spearheaded the charge with a season-high 14 points and Max Guercy chipped in 11 points. Freshman forward Sean Obi pulled down 13 boards and blocked two shots in the loss. Obi is ranked second nationally among freshmen in rebounding (9.7 rpg) and third in double-doubles with eight.
The Owls pulled off a shocking upset of the Charlotte 49ers in their last game at Tudor Fieldhouse. UNT will need to improve its perimeter shooting and prevent Rice from getting too many open looks from 3-point range to secure a decision.
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