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2017-18 BBall Season: Grambling Preview


North Texas played well for a half against Georgia Tech last week. The Mean Green return home tonight to take on a Grambling St program who just won their first game of the year.

  • Monday, Nov 27 2017
  • 7 p.m. CT
  • The Super Pit, Denton, TX
  • Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM

What You Need to Know About Grambling St

Record: 1-4

Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference

Coach: Donte Jackson (1st year at Grambling, previous job was at Stillman where he had a 66-21 record)

Last Game: UT Rio Grande Valley W 82-76

Game Plan

Attacking Grambling

Grambling is primarily a man to man team, which bodes well for North Texas. It just seems that the NT offense is more free flowing and crisp against man than it is against zone. There were improvements though against the zone of Georgia Tech last week so thats always good news. You could tell that NT used its practice time to work through their zone offense.

Getting back to attacking Grambling, the Tigers are a team that likes to play at about the same pace as North Texas. You could even say they want to push it more. That should favor North Texas, as the Mean Green have been doing a great job in their fast break offense.

In the half court North Texas must do a better job protecting the ball. Grambling is a pretty good team at forcing turnovers.  The Tigers forced 20 TO’s vs UTRGV and 20 against Bethune.  North Texas had 19 against Georgia Tech. Part of the issue is NT is getting penetration from its guards, but they are making terrible decisions with the ball near the basket.  You can’t blame it all on the guards. They need to have options when they drive. The other players can’t just stand around and watch the drive. The bigs have to provide a passing lane, the shooters need to get to the baseline corners, and someone should be cutting. All those things should help, as well as the driver just making better decisions.

Defending Grambling

Grambling is led by 3 main dudes. Ivy Smith is key cog in the Grambling offense. He can shoot from the outside, but is a better finisher around the rim. He is a playmaker on both side of the floor for the Tigers. Ivy had 6 steals against UTRGV. Woolridge will really need to take care of the ball.  Diontae Jones is a very physical guy, who didnt get many minutes last year. This year year he has been a huge factor on both ends of the floor. He will be a tough match-up for NT. I imagine Lawson will get the call on him.  The other guy to watch is Axel Mpoyo. The 6-8 F has been a good rim protector. Mpoyo is a JUCO transfer who can step outside and knock down open shots. He hit 50% of his 3’s at Northeastern Junior College, and he’s hit 50% of his 3’s this year.

Grambling isnt great at one thing on offense. They try to play with pace and attack the basket. They dont take or make a lot of 3’s. It wouldnt matter anyways, because North Texas does a great job at defending the 3. The Tigers do get to the free throw line at a good clip. 25% of the points Grambling scores come from the free throw line, that ranks them 24th in the country.

One area that impressed me last game from NT was defensive rebounding. They face a really good offensive rebounding team and only allowed 2. Simmons had 8 defensive boards. Grambling isnt a good offensive rebounding team, so I think North Texas should do a good job again.  If NT plays good first shot defense and they protect the ball on offense they may run away with this game.

Projected Starting Lineups

North Texas

Player Position Stat
Ryan Woolridge 6-3 G 14.5 PT/pg
Roosevelt Smart 6-3 G 16.5 PT/pg
A.J. Lawson 6-5 G  10 PT/pg
Zachary Simmons 6-9 F 4 PT/pg
Shane Temara 6-9 F 6 REB/pg


Bethune Cookman

Player Position Stat
Ivy Smith 6-0 G 13 PT/pg
Shirmane Thomas 6-3 G 9 PT/pg
Diontae Jones 6-6 G 12.4 PT/pg
Jason Perry-Murray 6-9 G 2.5 REB/pg
Axel Mpoyo 6-8 F 13 PT/pg

Go To Guys





3 Points

  1. Can North Texas cut down on its turnovers?
  2. AJ Lawson will have trouble attacking Diontae Jones off the dribble.
  3. Roosevelt Smart and Duffy have to be on point tonight from down town

And 1 – I’m interested to see if NT will play with the same effort it did vs. GT. Or does NT play down to their opponent.

Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up






I like North Texas to win this game. I see this Mean Green team getting better every game. This is a game they should win. If they do start to get sloppy with the ball then Grambling could easily take this game. This is one where you want to see what did NT learn vs. GT. Each game the Mean Green have been building off something they did bad in the previous game.


TeamRankings – North Texas by 2

My Pick – North Texas by 10

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