North Texas (9-17) at ULM (3-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Fant-Ewing Coliseum (7,085) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 6-7, ULM 2-6. Away Record: UNT 1-9, ULM 1-11. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, ULM 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 4-11, ULM 2-12. Series Record: ULM leads, 28-24.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Sun Belt Conference bottom-dwellers are set for a Thursday night clash, as the North Texas Mean Green come calling on the ULM Warhawks.
After participating in each of the last three Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship games, North Texas' 9-17 record (4-11 Sun Belt) has been nothing less than a huge disappointment. The Mean Green are feeling a bit better right now though, as the team snapped a five-game losing streak last Saturday with a 77-67 win over visiting FIU.
ULM has cemented itself as the worst team in the Sun Belt, as it has dropped a season-high nine straight games to plummet to 2-12 in league play and just 3-17 overall. The Warhawks most recently faced Louisiana on the road, and came away with a 90-66 loss.
ULM leads the all-time series with UNT, 28-24, but the Mean Green have closed the gap with wins in 10 of the last 12 meetings. The Warhawks went into Denton on Jan. 5 and came away with one of their two conference wins this season, 81-68.
Although North Texas was plagued by 21 turnovers in its last outing, it didn't matter much considering its red-hot shooting, as it set a school record by making 75 percent of its field goal attempts (24-of-32). It was also effective from the foul line (27-of-32) in the 10-point win. Roger Franklin netted 21 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 11-of-11 from the stripe, while Jordan Williams and Alzee Williams each poured in 15 points. On the season, Tony Mitchell leads the Mean Green with 13.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 2.6 bpg, but the Preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year has scored 14 points or fewer in nine of his last 10 games. Jordan Williams (13.4 ppg) is right on Mitchell's tail as the team's top scorer, while Franklin (11.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Alzee Williams (10.8 ppg) are also regular contributors. Despite the presence of four talented scorers, a glaring lack of depth limits UNT to just 66.5 ppg, which ranks seventh in the league.
The Warhawks put forth a solid offensive night by their standards in their latest game, shooting 46.3 percent from the field, but it was all for naught since the defense allowed Louisiana to make 52.5 percent of its field goal attempts en route to the 24-point decision. Even in defeat, Trent Mackey found his stroke from 3-point range, draining 6-of-8 attemts on his way to 20 points. Amos Olatayo added 15 points, and Jayon James tallied nine points, six assists and five rebounds, but also turned the ball over seven times. ULM sports a scoring margin more than twice as bad as any other Sun Belt team (-11.3) by netting a mere 62.0 ppg and surrendering 73.5 ppg. Olatayo has been an exception to the team's shooting woes, as he converts 47.2 percent of his field goal attempts for 15.4 ppg. Mackey scores 10.8 ppg and is active from 3- point territory (53-of-123). James stuffs the stat sheet (10.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.4 apg) but is prone to turnovers with five per contest.
ULM hasn't experienced much of an advantage at home this season (2-6), and even though North Texas has been a disappointment, it has more than enough talent to conquer the lackluster Warhawks in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 76, ULM 67
02/14 10:32:44 ET