GAME NOTES: Winners of three straight, the North Texas Mean Green will finish off a three-game road trip on Thursday night with a Conference USA showdown against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners.
North Texas has not been particularly dominant during its recent winning streak, claiming three straight victories by a total of six points, including a 78-76 triumph over Florida Atlantic last Saturday. Still, the Mean Green need wins any way they can get them as they are 14-13 overall and just 5-8 in conference. They play their final two games at home against Texas-El Paso and Tulsa, respectively.
UTSA has been stringing losses together of late, not wins. The Roadrunners fell in a 68-56 final to Tulane the last time out for their ninth defeat in the last 11 games. They have been even worse than North Texas in their first year in C-USA, with an 8-18 overall record, including a 4-9 mark in-conference. They will play their final road game of the campaign next against Tulsa.
These former Southland Conference rivals have met 18 times previously. The last meeting occurred during the Southland Conference Tournament when North Texas earned an 80-71 victory. The Mean Green are 11-7 all-time against the Roadrunners.
Jordan Williams scored 19 points and Colin Voss and Brandan Walton each chipped in 10 to help lead North Texas to victory over FAU. The Mean Green were outscored, 38-24, in the paint, but they did a better job at the free- throw line (17-12), and limited themselves to only seven turnovers, while forcing 13.
In comparison to the rest of C-USA, North Texas is a rather middle of the road offensive team. The Mean Green are only netting 70.6 ppg, while shooting the 10th-best percentage from the floor among conference teams (.431). They also struggle to move the ball effectively, ranking 12th in the league in assists (10.6 apg). Jordan Williams (12. ppg) and Alzee Williams (11.2 ppg) are the only real threats to reach double figures on the roster. Chris Jones (8.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) isn't scoring much this season, but he is the tops on the team when it comes to setting up his teammates.
Hyjii Thomas netted 16 points and Keon Lewis chipped in 12 for UTSA, which struggled to find its rhythm on offense against Tulane. The Roadrunners only connected on 34 percent from the floor, while totaling all of six field goals over the final 20 minutes. A 42-25 deficit on the boards did not help matters.
When it comes to offensive production, UTSA is even worse than its counterpart in this bout. The Roadrunners are only dropping in 69.5 ppg, while ranking 12th and 13th, respectively, in the conference in field goal percentage (.424) and assists (10.5 apg). UTSA does also not always commit to crashing the glass, ranking 14th in the league in rebounding (34.3 rpg). Despite scoring less than North Texas, the Roadrunners do benefit from having four players averaging in double figures, led by Lewis (13 ppg). Agusi (11.6 ppg), Jordan Sims (10.9 ppg) and Thomas (10 ppg) all make the cut as well, but not by a wide margin.
Considering their lowly position in the conference, it is surprising that North Texas has actually been able to compete on the road (5-6). UTSA isn't exactly a dominant home team (7-7), so expect the Mean Green to find a way to win another close one.
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