Hoops Squad Unbuckling The Belt With Cajuns
Final Belt Hoops Season Opens Saturday Against Cajuns
North Texas (3-4, 0-0 SBC) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (2-5, 0-1 SBC)
Dec. 1, 2012 • 7:00 p.m.
Denton, Texas • The Super Pit (10,500)
Radio: MGRN - 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
Live Stats: MeanGreenSports.com
Series: Louisiana-Lafayette leads 19-16
Last Meeting: NT won 65-62, SBC Tourney quarterfinals, 3/4/12
DENTON, Texas – It’s usually a drag-out knock-down battle when North Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette get together on the hardwood, and that’s exactly what Mean Green head coach Tony Benford is preparing his troops for.
The three matchups against the Cajuns last year featured one constant - defense. NT held ULL to a combined 37.1 percent shooting, while NT shot 36.1 percent as a team. The teams piled up a combined 29 blocks (NT 14, ULL 15) and 32 steals (NT 13, ULL 19) in the three contests.
The last four matchups have been decided by a total of 14 points, including a last-minute three-point victory for NT in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament. ULL holds a slim 19-16 margin in the all-time series with North Texas, but the Mean Green has taken nine of the last 14 meetings.
In the last matchup with the Cajuns, Brandan Walton knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to lift NT to a 65-62 victory in the Sun Belt Tournament quarterfinals. Walton led all scorers with 16 points, including 3-of-3 from downtown. Alzee Williams (14) and Roger Franklin (10) joined Walton in double-figures. The game featured 20 lead changes, including 12 in the second.
North Texas is 7-5 in Sun Belt openers since entering the league in 2000-01, including wins in three of the last four openers. Last year, NT fell to UALR, 69-66, at the Super Pit on Dec. 29. This will be NT’s final Sun Belt opener, as NT is moving to Conference USA in 2013-14, and also its earliest ever conference opener by a full 12 days.
The common perception is that NT is having trouble finding its shooting touch. But in the last five games only two halves standout as tough stretches - the first half at Virginia and the second half against UT Arlington (NT was a combined 2-of-22 from 3-point and shot 37.5 percent overall). Remove those halves from the equation and NT is shooting 31.7 percent from 3-point and 42.9 percent overall while averaging 71 points in its last five outings.