North Texas (3-5) at Saint Louis (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 5, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: FSN Midwest. Home Record: UNT 1-2, SLU 3-1. Away Record: UNT 0-2, SLU 0-1. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, SLU 1-1. Conference Record: UNT 0-1, SLU 0-0. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 28-9.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Louis Billikens will try to fend off an old rival as they host the North Texas Mean Green at Chaifetz Arena for non-conference action.
The Mean Green are desperate for a win after being handed setbacks in their last three games. North Texas dropped an 80-76 decision to Louisiana in its Sun Belt Conference opener on Saturday, which dropped the team's overall record to 3-5. Coach Tony Benford's team has also lost to Creighton, Alabama- Huntsville of the Division II, Virginia, and Texas-Arlington. Its only wins came over Lamar, Cameron (NAIA), and IUPUI. The Mean Green cost themselves their last outing by committing 19 turnovers and missing eight free-throw attempts.
Saint Louis is coming off of an emotional 62-49 win over Valparaiso one day after the death of former Billikens' coach Rick Majerus. The team came out and shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the field and held Valpo to just 32.6 percent overall to improve to 4-3. SLU has alternated wins and losses since its season-opening 76-59 victory over USC Upstate. The Billikens have been tougher at home, with three wins and just one loss at Chaifetz Arena. SLU is outscoring its opponents by an average of 4.3 ppg.
Saint Louis shared a Missouri Valley Conference rivalry from 1957-58 until 1974-75. Saint Louis owns a 28-9 all-time series lead. However, this rivalry has been idle since 1981.
North Texas is not an impressive team on the defensive end of the floor. Despite playing two non-Division I opponents already, the Mean Green are allowing 69.4 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting from the field. They are decent on the other end with 69.6 ppg. North Texas allowed Louisiana to knock down 9- of-18 from the charity stripe and assist 19 of its 26 makes from the floor. Chris Jones led the Mean Green with a season-high 23 points, but All-American sophomore Tony Mitchell had trouble getting involved in the offense and finished with a season-low three points. Mitchell paces the team with 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Jordan Williams (11.9 ppg), Jones (11.1), and Alzee Williams (10) all own double-digit scoring averages as well. Jones is also handing out a team-best 5.4 assists per contest.
The Billikens are a low-scoring team with an average of 64.4 ppg, but their defense has held the opposition to 60.1 ppg. SLU held Valparaiso's top two scorers and All-Horizon League players Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk to 10 points each on a combined 6-of-17 shooting from the field last time out. Meanwhile, junior forward Dwayne Evans poured in a game-high 17 points on 5- of-6 shooting from the field and junior guard Jordair Jett tallied 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Evans leads the team with 14 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while senior forward Cody Ellis is second on the team with 12.4 ppg off the bench.
The Billikens have one bad early season loss at home to Santa Clara, but they are coming off their best game of the season. The Mean Green are not the same team they were last season under Johnny Jones and Mitchell does not appear to be anywhere near his All-American rookie campaign. North Texas would make a statement with a win in this one, but it is unlikely to occur against the motivated Billikens.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 68, North Texas 61
12/05 10:31:36 ET