North Texas Mean Green (5-3) at Brigham Young Cougars (6-2)
TIME 6:00 p.m PST
TV BYUtv, with a live video stream at byutvsports.com
RADIO BYU – KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM or BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143
North Texas – MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
HEAD-TO-HEAD BYU leads 2-0
LAST MEETING BYU won 97-68 on 12/8/89
Chris Jones 9.8 ppg 4.9 rpg 3.8 apg
Vertrail Vaughns 9.1 ppg
Alzee Williams 16.3 ppg 3.6 rpg
Colin Voss 3.9 ppg 5.8 rpg
Keith Coleman 6.5 ppg 5.6 rpg
Matt Carlino 19.0 ppg 5.3 rpg 4.6 apg 2.0 spg
Kyle Collinsworth 11.3 ppg 9.0 rpg 5.6 apg
Tyler Haws 23.7 ppg 5.7 rpg
Nate Austin 4.1 ppg 8.6 rpg
Eric Mika 13.4 ppg 5.3 rpg
The Cougars return home nearly two weeks after Eric Mika was the Ricky Steamboat to DeAndre Kane’s Ric Flair. Surely, the Cougars will be looking to move on from the heartbreaking loss to Iowa State and re-establish homecourt dominance. With a huge match up against UMass on Saturday, BYU can ill-afford to look past the Mean Green. North Texas has already knocked off one WCC team on the road (Portland). It’s safe to say that they’d love to leave the Marriott Center with another win over a WCC opponent. BYU, however, cannot afford a loss here, as North Texas currently stands at 197 in the Pomeroy ratings. Depending on how the Mean Green do in conference play, what would be considered a “loss” in the short-run could turn into a “bad loss” in March. Simply put, BYU has to win the games they should definitely win. And, although North Texas has some solid, athletic talent, this is a game the Cougars should win.
For North Texas, opportunities to chalk up a big non-conference win are running thin; they play at BYU on Tuesday night and at Texas A&M on New Year’s Eve. A marquee victory over BYU would give North Texas a great boost of confidence as they make the transition from the Sun Belt to Conference USA. Outside of Charlotte, North Texas may not get a tougher challenge the rest of the season than they will in Provo. A win would be huge for the Mean Green and a launching pad into a successful run in CUSA. They have the athletes to give BYU fits, but they’ll have to be firing on all cylinders as a cohesive unit in order to grab the upset.
CAN UNT SPREAD IT AROUND?
When I say spread it around, I’m not talking about the scoring. Five different players have led the Mean Green in scoring so far this season. North Texas attacks the rim with the fervor of a honey badger. They’re very good off the bounce, and they can get open looks on the drive and kick. Quickness and athleticism are not an issue for the Mean Green.
The glaring stat of the day, however, is that North Texas ranks 333 out of 351 D-1 teams in assists per game. Chances are that BYU won’t be able to handle North Texas with a man-to-man look on defense. But if the Cougars sink into the 2-3 zone and clog the driving lanes, will UNT be able to get the ball in the basket? They shoot a respectable 37 percent from deep, so, if they get hot, North Texas may be able to shoot BYU out of the zone. That’s a questionable “if”, though. We saw as much from Utah State on Saturday. Once the Aggies’ shots stopped falling, the Cougars seized control of the game and never looked back.
The Mean Green will need to keep the ball moving on offense, and they will be able to break down the Cougars. They’ll need more than their per-game average of 10 assists to pull off the upset. The good news is that BYU has flaws defensively, but UNT will need to exploit them.
The two previous meetings between BYU and UNT rank 1st and 5th out of the most voluminous crowds UNT has played in front of. This one won’t come close to the 21K that packed the Marriott Center in 1980, but the crowd should be one of the biggest the Mean Green will see. It will be a test of composure.
Also, the elevation difference from Denton to Provo is about 4000 feet. It will be a test of conditioning and body control.
In the end, the key is Coach Dave Rose. North Texas will put up a spirited fight. They will grab offensive boards and test the BYU defense. Will the coach make the proper adjustments with his team to offset the Mean Green effort? A talented BYU squad with a great coach will overwhelm the Mean Green.
BYU 92 North Texas 75