NT Hoops Will Have To Contend With LA Tech Speedy Duo
Tony Benford One Win Shy Of NT HOF Coach Charlie Johnson For Career Wins
North Texas (7-10, 1-4 C-USA) vs. LA Tech (14-4, 5-0 C-USA)
DENTON - Few nicknames more aptly describe a basketball player than the moniker given to Louisiana Tech point guard Kenneth "Speedy" Smith, who North Texas will have to contend with on Thursday evening.
Smith is the court general of the potent LA Tech offense, and ranks among the nation's premier point guards. The senior ranks third in the nation in assists per game at 7.4, and trails the national leader - Jalan West of Northwestern State - by 0.2 dimes per game.
With 725 career assists, Smith trails only Brett Comer of Florida Gulf Coast among all active players. Smith is also 25th in the country in assist/turnover ratio (+2.91) and 64th in steals per game (1.94).
Smith is joined by Michale Kyser, who patrols the paint with authority for the Bulldogs. The senior averages 3.22 blocks, which ranks seventh in the NCAA. On the year, Kyser has 58 total blocks, which is just five behind North Texas' team total of 63. Kyser is the NCAA's active career blocks leader with 319 redirects.
LA Tech has won the last nine games in the series with NT, which is the program's longest losing streak to another C-USA opponent. NT's last win over the Bulldogs came in 1985-86.
North Texas will counter the Bulldogs attack with a stellar zone defense. The Mean Green has averaged 10.7 steals over its last three games, including a season-high 14 at Charlotte. In fact, NT is averaging a league-best 8.2 steals in C-USA games.
Jordan Williams is known around the league as a scorer, but the senior is now tied for 10th in NT history with 98 career steals, and at 1.6 per game is on pace to reach the top five. Williams is now tied for 11th in school history in career scoring.
Tony Benford is one win shy of NT Hall of Famer Charlie Johnson (1959-65) and Gene Robbins (1971-75) for 10th among all NT coaches with 36 career wins.