Iona Brings Nation's Best 3-Point Attack To Super Pit Sunday
Impressive Gaels Squad Invades Super Pit Fresh Off Win At Wake Forest
Todd Eaglin hit a pair of late 3-pointers to help seal the win over Delaware State on Wednesday.
North Texas (3-0, 0-0 C-USA) vs. Iona (2-1, 0-0 MAAC)
DENTON - Off to a convincing 3-0 start, North Texas head coach Tony Benford knows his charges are ready for a measuring stick game. His Mean Green will get that and more on Sunday against the defending Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champs, Iona, a squad coming off an 85-81 win at Wake Forest on Friday.
Iona's up-tempo style has ranked them among the national leaders in points per game and 3-pointers made per game in each of the last three seasons. The Gaels led the NCAA in makes from 3-point last year (10.2 3FGM) and were fourth in scoring offense (83.6 PPG). Iona led the country in scoring in both 2012-13 (80.4 PPG) and 2011-12 (82.9 PPG).
Iona (2-1) led by as much as 13 points with 7:07 remaining at Wake Forest on Friday, and held off the Demon Deacons for an 85-81 victory. A.J. English tore up the Deacons with 27 points and eight boards. Isaiah Williams added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
English is the son of former Virginia Union All-American and Washington Bullet, A.J. English, Sr., and is Iona's returning scoring leader. So far this year, English is pouring in a team-high 21.0 points per game, and is the focal point of their potent attack. Still, the Gaels can look inside to 6-9 David Laury, the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year.
North Texas will counter with their varied zone defensive looks that Super Pit patrons have come to know over this 3-0 start. The Mean Green is holding opponents to 36.0 percent shooting and is forcing 9.3 steals per game.
Due to NT's lack of size in the paint, Benford installed a rebound-by-committee philosophy, and the results speak for themselves. Five NT players are averaging at least 5.5 boards per game, and the squad owns a +12.0 rebounding margin.
Wednesday's win gave Benford a 46.3 win percentage, which passed Dan Spika (45.7, 1965-70) for the fifth best mark by an NT coach since WWII. A win over Iona would vault Benford past NT Hall of Fame coach Pete Shands (1935-59, 46.5 percent) for fourth, and would give NT a 4-0 start for the first time since 1990-91.