North Texas Mean Green vs. Florida Atlantic Owls
Date: February 19, 2015
Time: 6:00 pm CT
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
All-Time Series: UNT Lead 8-3
UNT will look to extend their winning streak vs. bottom dweller Florida Atlantic this Thursday in Boca Raton, FL. Its an interesting match-up that features one team trending up in NT and one trending down in FAU. FAU hasn’t won a CUSA game in over a month now and have lost 7 in a row. NT has been up and down by beating good teams and losing to bad teams. The good news for NT fans is that it appears as this team is starting to play a good brand of basketball. The bad news for NT fans is that this game is on the road. The Mean Green are just 1-8 on the road this year.
Both of these teams are evenly matched statistically. It should lead to another close game and one that comes down to the final possessions for NT. What will be interesting to watch is how aggressive NT comes out. Do they have the pancake syndrome and come out flat or do they pick up where they left off after defeating Middle Tennessee in dramatic comeback fashion. All NT fans including myself would like to see better consistency from this team.
NT has the talent to be better than their record suggests. Its just a matter of the players playing as a collective unit. Mid Major schools that have success are often composed of rosters that have players who’ve been in that system for 3-4 years. NT doesn’t have that luxury. They’ve got a collection of JUCO’s and transfers. It takes time to get comfortable with your teammates. Maybe we are seeing NT finally gelling as a team. How they play on Thursday will give us a glimpse of if this NT team has turned a corner.
Key Personnel Match-up:
Marquan Botley vs. T.J Taylor/UNTs Zone
Botley is the key to FAU’s offense. He is 6th in CUSA (only) assists, 6th in FT %, averages 14.1, 9th in 3’s made per game, and used on 26% the FAU possessions. UNT will have to do a good job of keeping him out of the lane. He had 7 dimes last year in a 78-76 loss to NT. Botley is the type of guy who could break down the UNT zone which could lead to open 3’s for this teammates. NT doesn’t want to see guys like Jackson Trapp and Justin Massey, who shoot over 40% on 3pt shots, wide open.
Keys to the Game:
- Force TO’s/Aggressive D. NT’s best offense is their defense. Forcing TO’s, active hands, and closing down passing lanes will lead to easy baskets. NT needs all the easy baskets they can get.
- Long Rebounds. FAU is going to rely heavily on their 3’s. Long shots lead to long rebounds.
- Points in the Paint. FAU gives up 65% of their points on D from 2 pt shots and only 13.1% from 3’s. They also hold their opponents to 27% shooting from down town. They give up 51% shooting on 2pt tries which ranks 13th in CUSA. NT on the other hand shoots 48% inside the arc. Should be a big advantage for NT.
Mean Green Nation Basketball Expert – FAU 63 – UNT 62
I’m in the ‘show me” category when it comes to this NT team right now. I like a lot of fans want to believe that this team has indeed turned a corner. A win on the road regardless of the competition would go a long way into making me a believer. Anyways winning on the road is a tough thing to do in conference. Just ask Louisiana Tech and UAB which both lost to NT on the road.
Here’s the thing about this game, NT has to find way to get easy buckets. They have to pound the rock inside the paint. I’ve already noted that FAU is not good at defending inside the arc, but are great at defending the 3 pt line. I’d like to see NT get Jordan Williams lots of looks in the paint. Get Williams posted up on the block. I’d also love to see better spacing, which would allow Combs to have more room to operate. Key is to force the ball into the paint and not get comfortable with outside shots.
On defense NT needs to be aggressive. Run those 3pt shooters off the 3pt line. The last thing I want to see is Botley penetrating and kicking for open 3’s all day long. I wouldn’t be surprised to see UNT run more man defense in this game.
The Mean Green can definitely win this game and should win. I just don’t have a whole lot of confidence in a team that is 1-8 on the road and is inconsistent. Like wise I cant put a whole lot of confidence in a team that has lost 7 in a row. I will take FAU to pull out the win in a close one. I hope I’m wrong and NT comes out and dominates with a 20 pt victory.
Go Mean Green!
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