GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green hope to find their first-ever Conference USA win as they invade the Cam Henderson Center to square off with the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Tony Benford's Mean Green entered its first season of C-USA play on a four- game winning streak, but has since lost consecutive games at home to Southern Miss (74-64) and Tulane (73-62). In its last game outside of Denton, UNT coasted to a 61-41 victory over Texas A&M in College Station to improve to 2-2 in true road tests. The Mean Green have for the most part struggled with their efficiency this season, sporting less than impressive percentages from the field (.420), 3-point range (.323) and the foul line (.655). UNT's average of 72 ppg is slightly less than what it allows on the other end of the floor (73.3 ppg).
The Thundering Herd have lost five of their last six games to drop to a 6-11 overall record. Marshall was outrebounded, 43-34, on Saturday as it fell, 66-56, to Texas-El Paso at the Don Haskins Center. Coach Tom Herrion's team is 0-8 in true road tests this season, but has performed much better at the Cam Henderson Center where it is 6-2. Due to a handful of departures and the addition of nine newcomers, Marshall has adopted a new style of play this season. It has the third highest scoring average among C-USA schools at 80.4 ppg and the second worst scoring defense in the 16-team league at 75.7 ppg.
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools. Marshall came out of the first bout with an 81-78 victory on Dec. 28, 1990 in Bloomington, Indiana.
In its loss to Tulane, UNT had three starters who failed to not only make a single field goal, but were also held scoreless. A fourth was limited to just five points. T.J. Taylor scored 19 points to lead the Mean Green while Jordan Williams and Vertrail Vaughns contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively. Alzee Williams leads UNT in the scoring column with 13 ppg, followed by junior guard Jordan Williams who contributes 11.3 ppg along with 6.0 rpg. The two are the lone members of the Mean Green averaging double-digits in points. Chris Jones runs the show for the team and has racked up 52 assists against 34 turnovers.
Marshall appeared to have a chance at its first road win its last time out as it went into the intermission tied with the Miners. However, UTEP began the second period on a 10-0 run and the Herd were unable to climb back. Ryan Taylor scored 18 points and Chris Thomas netted 13 in the loss. Freshman point guard Kareem Canty had one of the worst outings of his young collegiate career, finishing 2-of-14 from the floor for only seven points. The rookie floor general is still posting a team-leading 16.4 ppg to go along with a C- USA leading 6.5 apg.
The Mean Green's top performers should be able to return to their normal standards against Marshall, which is not going to win any games until its play on the defensive end of the floor improves. The Thundering Herd are missing some key components due to injury and suspension and may find themselves in the cellar of the C-USA standings if they can't find a legitimate and consistent low post threat to open things up for Canty.
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