North Texas faces its first true test of their 2017-18 basketball campaign as they go on the road to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Both teams are 1-0. The Mean Green dominated Eureka College 122-65. Nebraska had to grind out a win against Eastern Illinois 72-68.
- Monday, Nov 13 2017
- 7 p.m. CT
- Pinnacle Band Arena, Lincoln, NE
- TV: Big Ten Network +
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know
Nebraska is coached by Tim Miles. He’s been at Nebraska since 2013 and has a record of 76 Ws and 86 Ls. He’s never quite been able to get that Nebraska program over the edge. Much like North Texas, Nebraska was picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten. They don’t boast a terrific back court or front court.
What the Cornhuskers do have is a pretty good depth and a solid guard named Glynn Watson Jr. Watson was one of the few standouts vs, Eastern Illinois last week. Watson consistently got to the free throw line and he was the only Cornhusker to shot over 60% from the free throw line. Other than Watson be on the look out for Isaiah Roby. Roby is a 6-8 F who came off the bench in game 1 to nab 13 boards and 11 points. Roby also had 6 blocks. Roby provided a tremendous lift for Nebraska.
Nebraska doesn’t present the same challenge that Eureka College did. The Cornhuskers are’t a threat to light it up from down town. They shot 31.8% from the 3pt line last year and 31.3% last week vs Eastern Illinois. What the Cornhuskers do well is get to the free throw line, 39 vs Eastern Illinois. They also play solid defense, something that Tim Miles is known for. He usually has his teams ranked well in defensive efficiency.
North Texas couldn’t miss against Eureka College on Friday. It was our first chance to see the new pieces in a game, and they didn’t disappoint. Roosevelt Smart looked like a smooth scoring machine. Ryan Woolridge was all over the place. His hustle really stood out, as did his ability to blow past his defender. Gibson and Duffy show cased their outside shooting ability with the 6 3’s they made. Gibson also was very active on defense. His perimeter defense made things difficult for the Eureka guards. Shane Temara had a nice game as did Allante Holston. AJ Lawson struggled to get himself going, but he did grab 7 boards.
This game against the Cornhuskers will provide us fans with a better understanding of where this team is at. I expect Nebraska to mostly guard UNT in a man defense. The Cornhuskers probably saw that shooting display in their scouting meetings and will make it a priority to guard tight on the outside shooters. What will be intriguing is how Nebraska chooses to guard Woolridge. Do they choose to back off some and force him to make jumpshots? Do they play him tight and allow dribble drives, but don’t help off the shooters? I believe they will mix between those two strategies. Nebraska blocked 9 shots against Eastern Illinois, so they will most likely allow their bigs to challenge inside drives instead of relying on help defense from the guards. Who ever is guarding Lawson can help, because he isn’t a threat to make outside shots. Now Temara provides a solution to the help from bigs. Temara can stretch the floor. He was 1 for 1 against Eureka from 3 pt distance.
31 3 pt shots attempted for UNT in game 1. North Texas only shot more than 30 3’s twice last year. They won both games, but they never came close to shooting as well as this years team did. It was a nice to see UNT knock down open shots, but I felt like UNT got too trigger happy at times. Settling for the outside shot instead of working the ball inside from a drive. I hope that North Texas doesn’t just start jacking 3’s tonight. I hope they try to attack Nebraska through the drive first tonight.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||4 A/pg|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||7 REB/pg|
|Umoja Gibson 6-1||G||19 PT/pg|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||23 PT/pg|
|Shane Temara 6-9||F||6 REB/pg|
|Glynn Watson 6-0||G||21 PT/pg|
|Evan Taylor 6-5||G||12 PT/pg|
|James Palmer Jr. 6-6||G||12 PT/pg|
|Isaac Copeland 6-9||F||5 REB/pg|
|Jordy Tshimanga 6-11||C||11 REB/pg|
Go To Guys
- UNT has to keep Watson out of the paint and off the free throw line.
- Ryan Woolridge is the heart beat of the Mean Green. He is driving this team.
- AJ Lawson got off to a slow start, but he will lead NT in rebounds tonight.
And 1 – This is the first game we get to see how well UNT’s small line-up matches-up with a bigger front line.
Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up
North Texas doesn’t have a game yet against a D1 team so I don’t have advanced stats for all of their areas. Mainly I’m missing possession data.
This is a winnable game for North Texas. Nebraska isn’t the greatest Big Ten team out there. The match-ups aren’t that far off. My biggest concern is that North Texas and their aggressive defense will get them into foul trouble. Nebraska did a great job getting to the line in their first game. If UNT stays out of foul trouble they will have every opportunity to take this game.
Vegas – Nebraska by 14
Numberfire – Nebraska by 12
TeamRankings – Nebraska by 14
My Pick – Nebraska by 6.