North Texas travels to El Paso for their first conference game of the Grant McCasland era. Its a huge opportunity for the Mean Green to set the tone for a solid showing in CUSA play.
- Thursday, Dec 28 2017
- 8:00 p.m. CT
- Don Haskins Center , EL Paso TX
- TV: CUSA TV
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know About UTEP
Coach: Phil Johnson (1st season at UTEP, Previously at San Jose St from 2002-05 )
Last Game: North Dakota St L 63-51
Last time on the floor North Texas struggled to find good looks against a long athletic Georgetown team. The two best shooters for North Texas went 2-18 from beyond the 3pt line. Tonight Jorden Duffy and Roosevelt Smart have to come up with better efforts if the Mean Green are going to have chance at the W. Both Smart and Duffy should fare better tonight against easier competition. Duffy was a little rusty after missing a few games with a knee injury. Smart struggled with the Hoyas length.
Woolridge was the best player last time out for North Texas. He will need to be on top of his game again tonight. He will most likely be matched up with FR Kobe Magee. Magee isn’t the type of defender who should be able to shut down Woolridge. If you’ve watched any of North Texas this year, you know that even when defenders play off of Woolridge they still struggle to stay in front of him. Ryan should have a big game tonight.
Perhaps the most interesting match-up tonight will be Lawson vs. Frazier. Both are similar slashing type players. Frazier is probably the better shooter. Lawson is the better finisher at the rim. If Lawson remains in attack mode, he may get Frazier in foul trouble.
Temara and Simmons have been a solid front court for North Texas. The FR Simmons has had his ups and downs. Simmons looked like he was really turning a corner after the McNeese St game, but he has had some off games. UTEP isn’t a good rebounding team, so Simmons is due for a nice game. Temara did his best to keep North Texas close against Georgetown. The SR F hit 4 3’s and hauled in 12 boards. That was a great effort against one of the best front courts North Texas has played.
UTEP has had an up and down year. The Miners only won one of their first 7 games, and they lost their coach to retirement. Then after losing 6 in a row UTEP came up with 4 straight victories. Its hard to get a read on exactly where this UTEP team is. I’m still a believer that the Miners are a dangerous middle tier CUSA team. UTEP has enough weapons to challenge the elite CUSA teams on any night.
The Miners are led by some familiar faces. Guard Omega Harris is back and is a threat to score from everywhere on the floor. Former North Texas guard Keith Frazier is having the kind of year that many Mean Green fans were hoping he’d have for them last year. Frazier is been the best scorer for the Miners this season. He’s scored in double digits 4 out of the last 5 games. Frazier has also been strong on the defensive boards. During that 5 game stretch he’s averaged 7 defensive boards a game.
Other guys to look out for are JR forward Paul Thomas. Thomas is a threat to get a double double. FR G Kobe Magee was a really good scorer in high school. He hasn’t put up a lot of points yet, but he’s been a nice contributor. Another FR Tirus Smith has also been a solid freshman contributor. He’s been one of the better rebounders for UTEP.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||4.9 A/pg|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||17.6 PT/pg|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||10.8 PT/pg|
|Zachary Simmons 6-9||F||5 PT/pg|
|Shane Temara 6-9||F||6.8 REB/pg|
|Kobe Magee 6-1||G||1.4 A/pg|
|Keith Frazier 6-5||G||14.6 PT/pg|
|Omega Harris 6-8||G||12.6 PT/pg|
|Paul Thomas 6-7||F||8.7 PT/pg|
|Tirus Smith 6-9||F||5.6 PT/pg|
Go To Guys
- Get Smart some easy looks early. He needs to bounce back after 1-13 from 3pt range against GTown.
- Dominate the glass.
- Keep the bigs out of foul trouble.
Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up
Even though North Texas has had their troubles out west in El Paso, I still like their chances tonight. That’s why I’m going to pick North Texas to win. I believe that the Mean Green will shut down UTEP with their first shot defense and will own the boards.
My Pick: North Texas by 7