North Texas travels to Birmingham to face UAB in a monster CUSA match-up.
- Thursday, Feb 8 2018
- 7:00 p.m. CT
- Bartow Arena , Birmingham, Ala
- TV: CUSA TV
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know About UAB
Coach: Rob Ehsan (2nd season at UAB. Record 32-25 )
Last Game: ODU L 65-60
Scoring Margin: 9.6
CUSA Scoring Margin: 4.4
Attacking UAB comes down to one major area. Lets be honest with each other. North Texas isn’t going to win this game, by attacking the basket. UAB has William Lee in there redirecting shots. Plus UAB is only letting their opponent shoot about 59% on shots near the rim. North Texas shoots close to 66% on their attempts, but they only get about 21 shots near the rim.
Nope this game comes down to NT’s ability to knock down open 3’s. UAB is giving up about 27 3PT’ers a game in CUSA play. North Texas will attempt near 26 3’s in this game. The important numbers are that NT is shooting 38% from downtown on the road this year, and that UAB is letting their opponent hit on 36% of the 3’s they attempt. In conference play UAB’s opponents are getting 42% of their points from behind the arch. Those are high numbers and reason for hope.
North Texas fans know that Smart and Draper are capable of hitting 3’s at a high rate, but its Temara that could be key in this game. His ability to shoot could draw William Lee away from the basket opening up some driving lanes for Woolridge and Lawson. Temara is due to breakout from his slump. The other X factor could Jorden Duffy who is set to make his return tonight. He was ready to play vs. Rice, but they are being cautious with him. Expect him to get a few minutes tonight. He could provide a lift by knocking down a few outside shots himself.
The other key offensive player I wanted to breakdown was Holston. If its true and Holston does start he has to be aggressive on offense. He just cant be another body out there on offense. What made his game special against Rice was his offensive output. He doesn’t have to score double digits, but he has to at least force Cokley to guard him.
Lets breakdown how this game is going to look. North Texas allows about 18 shots near the rim per game. UAB gets 30 shots near the rim per game. North Texas is allowing their opponent to shoot over 70% in those close range shots. UAB shoots about 66% in their close range shots. If North Texas allows UAB to get off 30 or more shots near the rim they will have no chance at winning this game. Its really that simple. It would equal about 42 points in the paint for UAB, when NT usually gives up 25.
Keeping UAB from getting paint touches is going to be really hard. They do have one of the best players in CUSA who is a post player. F Chris Cokley is a match-up nightmare for the Mean Green. They don’t really have one guy who can hold him down. It’s an interesting strategy to start Allante Holston on him as the game notes suggests. Holston is a long rangy defender. He isn’t a bulky post defender. Tope was battling a little back injury so perhaps that plays into it. Either way Tope is the guy who has the best chance of slowing down Cokley.
Besides Cokley the Blazers also have 6-9 C William Lee on the inside. Lee is primarily a shot blocker, but he can rebound and knock down outside shots. Maybe Holston gets matched-up with him while Simmons guards Cokley.
The UAB guards are led by Zach Bryant and Nate Darling. Bryant is one of the best freshman in CUSA. He was heavily recruited out of Florida. Bryant is a combo guard who can score,slash, and defend. Darling has improved a lot. He was only averaging 2.5 points per game last year. Now he’s arguably the best 3PT shooter for the Blazers. Also I dont want to leave out PG Nick Norton. Norton is averaging 5 assists per game in CUSA play. Norton is the dude that drives the Blazer offense. They weren’t the same team without him last year.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||5.9 A/pg|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||19 PT/pg|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||9.7 PT/pg|
|Allante Holston 6-7||F||4.2 PT/pg|
|Zachary Simmons 6-9||F||4 REB/pg|
|Nick Norton 5-10||G||4.5 A/pg|
|Zach Bryant 6-2||G||13.1 PT/pg|
|Nate Darling 6-5||G||10.1 PT/pg|
|Chris Cokley 6-8||F||18.5 PT/pg|
|William Lee 6-9||F||2 BLK/pg|
Go To Guys
- Survive the early UAB run. After losing in a tight one to ODU, UAB is probably going to come out fast early. UNT needs to survive that and keep this game close for as long as possible.
- Keep the bigs out of foul trouble. Have to throw as many bodies as you can against the UAB front line.
- Holston has to be aggressive on offense. If your going to start Allante Holston he better make an impact on the offensive end. He isn’t a shooter and Cokley wont chase him around. He has to find ways to score.
Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up
I’ve rewrote this section 3 times now. I’ve gone back and forth with this one. Way back when I said that North Texas would need a prayer to win this game. Well that prayer will be answered by Smart, Draper, Temara, and Duffy knocking down 3’s. I believe North Texas will hit double digit 3’s for the 6th time this season and pull of the major upset. All the pressure is on UAB in this game. For NT its all about enjoying the ride.
My Pick: North Texas by 3