North Texas took two from Western and Middle in the mid south, a first for the program. The reward is an old division/conference foe in Louisiana Tech tonight at 7pm on ESPN+. As it stands, both teams are slightly behind their pace from the last couple of years — North Texas is dropped a game they were winning vs FAU, and Tech has dropped two thus far in conference play. This matchup has been tough and grimy in recent years, thanks in no small part to the Tech squad’s devotion to defense. Tech is not as stout defensively as they were under Konkol. He had them first or second in defensive efficiency every season since 20. In 2019, it was like, third.
They are still good, but to my eyes they do not look as crisp offensively, and their current defensive efficiency rating is from having played some iffy teams. That said, they split vs UTEP, a good defensive team. They should be ready to handle the physicality that North Texas brings to the defensive side of the floor.
This will be the first game back in the Pit after a little hiatus, and the first time back for the ~PIT CREW~ er, the Maniacs.
North Texas With The Ball
Tylor Perry has been getting the best defender — usually the one with the most length — for a few games now, but has been good about making his presence felt no matter what. He will be asked to score late in the clock, and that will not change here. Abou Ousmane has been in foul trouble too often, and given his importance, that is something to watch. Tech has some size in there, but its CUSA replacement level and nothing he hasn’t scored on before. The key is keeping his hands up, and moving his feet and not picking up the smaller stuff. Basically playing like he did vs Middle in the 2nd half.
Elsewhere, NT will be looking to the supporting cast to come up just as big at home as they did away. Rubin Jones and Aaron Scott were huge, doing the effort work and Scott was knocking down wide open jumpers. Jayden Martinez and Kai Huntsberry were solid, but have an opportunity to shine ahead of Saturday’s big game in Boca Raton.
North Texas Without The Ball
Cobe Williams îs super quick, with great hops. He can shoot it now, and loves to attack the basket. He’s been a burden in NT’s side for a while, and he drives this Tech team. Elsewhere is Isaiah Crawford, who gave NT fits two seasons ago before being shut down by Thomas Bell late in the year. He hurt his knee and is still working his way back, but is very dangerous. Keaston Willis is a shooter, but will occasionally drive the ball, but is mostly looking to get loose in transition and off off-ball screens.
Tech doesn’t look at crisp as they did under Konkol, but some of that is just getting used to life without Junior Lofton, who is killing it in the G-League. Tech has a lot of athletes and they will try to bully their way into scoring positions and get second chance stuff. NT learned a little lesson about coming out flat vs Middle. The hype of the home crowd should help the squad be ready to play from the jump.
Tech is a long-time rival, and so the squad should be ready to play. It is good that the game comes one day sooner than usual, as it reduces the thinking aspect and can maybe keep NT on the rhythm from the road trip. This begins a 5-games-in-11-days stretch against a schedule that includes at FAU and at UAB. This is the meat of the season, folks. It starts tonight.