CUSA Tourney Game 1 – UNT vs Rice Basketball Preview

North Texas Mean Green vs. Rice Owls

Date: March 11, 2014

Time: 4:30 pm CT

Location: El Paso, TX

Line: UNT -5

TV:None

Webcast: C-USA Digital Network (March 11-13)

Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM

All-Time Series: UNT leads 9-4

UNT Game Notes

Rice Game Notes

Statistical Break Down

North   Texas

 

Rice

 15-15

W-L

7-22

70

POINTS FOR

62

73

POINTS AGAINST

70

42%

FG%

40%

43%

FG% DEF

43%

70%

FT%

70%

33%

3PT FG%

32%

34%

 3PT FG% DEF

35%

37

REB

32

38

REF OPP

38

10

ASSISTS

14

13

TO’s

13

7

STEALS

5

 

Projected Starters:

Rice

NAME POS PPG REB AST STL BLK FG% 3PT%
Sean Obi 6-9 F

11.4

9.3

0.8

0.6

1

60%

0%

Seth Gearhart 6-7 F

6.7

3.4

1.4

1

0.7

36%

31%

Austin Ramljak 6-3 G

11.4

2.4

1.2

0.8

0

39%

39%

Marcus Jackson 6-3 G

6.7

2.2

2.2

1.1

0

32%

25%

Max Guercy 5-9  G

9.6

3.2

3.2

1

0

35%

31%

Key Reserve                
Keith Washington 6-1 G

8

2.4

2.4

0.6

0

39%

32%

Andrew Drone 6-10 F

3.5

2

2.0

0.1

0.4

53%

0%

North Texas

NAME & HT POS PPG REB AST STL BLK FG% 3PT%
Keith Coleman 6-10

F

3.2

3.4

0.1

0

0.8

42%

0%

Colin Voss 6-7

F

6.9

5.8

0.6

0.5

0.4

48%

0%

Jordan Williams 6-6

G

12.3

6.2

0.4

0.8

0.5

41%

31%

Alzee Williams 6’4

G

11.5

2.3

1.3

0.7

0

47%

25%

Chris Jones 6-2

G

7.9

3.8

4

1.6

0

42%

28%

Key Reserves

 

             
TJ. Taylor 6-3

G

7.3

3

1.3

0.6

0.2

50%

30%

Maurice Aniefiok 6-5

G

6.7

3.5

0.6

0

0.2

39%

38%

Ventrail Vaughns 6-2

G

7.4

1.4

1.2

0.7

0

36%

33%

Brandon Walton 6-2

G

6.5

2.1

0.6

0.8

0

37%

35%

Game Preview:

When is the last time the Rice Owls won a game? Well you would have to go back to February 6th when they defeated the Mean Green 75-70. It wasn’t a pretty effort for UNT on that night. Well that’s all in the past now, because the conference tournament is a whole new season. Conference Tournament week is just as exciting as the Big Dance. It’s an opportunity for almost every team to make a run to the dance. The teams that can play with the most sense of urgency are the teams that come from nowhere to punch their tickets. Can UNT be one of those teams? Can Coach Tony Benford guide this Mean Green team through a tough bracket. A win against Rice would lead to a matchup against Tulane, who is another team that UNT lost to this year. First thing first though UNT needs to take care of the Owls.

Scouting Report:

UNT

Offense – Motion Offense with dribble drive principles. UNT likes to spread the floor and attack off the dribble with its guards. UNT will try to use their bigs to set screens in the high post in order to free up a driving lane. There is no threat of a roll from the big who set the screen due to the lack of scoring ability. To me it’s a waste to have either Gaines or Coleman setting screens on the ball. They need to work more off the ball trying to free up shooters. There really is no low block scoring threat for the Mean Green outside of Voss who is more suited to be taking the 15 ft jumper instead of playing with his back to the basket.

Defense – Man to Man / 2-3 Zone. UNT found its best success against Rice last time out when it forced Rice to play uncomfortable. When UNT put pressure on in the back court with traps and presses it often led to an Owl turnover. If I was Coach Benford I would switch it up a lot against Rice giving them different looks out of every stoppage of play. They are not great passers.

Rice

Offense – Against UNT last time out the Owls used a lot of high pick and roll situations with Obi and it shredded UNT. The big men guarding Obi would stop penetration sometimes, but Obi would have a free run to the basket for an easy dunk. To many times the UNT big men got caught with a bad angle allowing the entry pass to set up Obi for an easy shot. Defending the pick and roll and the post up after the screens will be essential for UNT.

Defense – Rice will flip back and forth from a 2-3 zone to man to man.

Advantages:

Back Court UNT has the distinct advantage in the back court against Rice because pretty much every good player UNT has is a back court player. UNT has a mixture of shooters and penetrators who should be able to break down the Owl defense. Alzee and Chris Jones should have good games.

Front Court UNT really has no one who can match the abilities of Sean Obi. Collin Voss is a nice player, but he would be a mismatch against Obi. UNT really needs either Coleman or Gaines to provide solid minutes against Obi which is something they were unable to do last time.

Coaching Perhaps the biggest mismatch of this game is between the two head coaches. Ben Braun for Rice has been to both the NIT and NCAA tourney while coaching at Cal. Coach Benford has yet to record his first conference tourney game. Luckily for Coach Benford he has the edge in team talent against Braun.

Key Personnel Matchup:

Rice’s Sean Obi vs. UNT’s Front Court

Last time out against the Owls UNT’s front court managed to log 48 minutes (28 were from Collin Voss), 16 rebounds (10 were from Voss), and 13 points (11 were from Voss). Compare that to Sean Obi who had 32 minutes, 13 rebounds, and 18 points. Obi simply out classed the UNT front court all night long.

Keys to the Game:

  1. Quick Start. Last time game against Rice the Owls jumped out to a 21-5 lead. UNT simply can’t afford to get behind by double digits early on. They just don’t have the offensive and defensive execution to recover from a deficit like that.
  2. Finishing at the Basket. Not sure I’ve seen a team miss as many bunnies as UNT. Go up strong and finish. Leave the weak stuff in Denton.
  3. Stop Dribble Drive Penetration. Max Guercy  pretty much got in the lane at will against UNT.
  4. Strong Help Defense. Been non-existent many time this year for UNT. Will be needed today vs Rice’s pick and roll.
  5. Production from the Bigs. Something anything please.

The Pick:

UNT

Give me UNT in round one of the CUSA tournament. I don’t feel as confident as I should because I don’t think Rice is a good team at all. If UNT is able to play decent defense and avoid the slow start like last time out I think this will be a double digit win. On the flip side you’re never quite sure what UNT team is going to walk out on the floor. I expect Jordan Williams to come out and have a better game. I expect UNT to protect the ball a lot better and not have as many sloppy turnovers as they did last time out (15). I don’t expect Rice to get to 70 points. Overall I expect UNT to play fairly well and come out of this game with a victory.

Go Mean Green!