Versatile NT Hosting Defense-First Lumberjacks Sunday
North Texas vs. Stephen F. Austin - Dec. 15, 1 p.m.
North Texas (5-4) vs. Stephen F. Austin (8-2)
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 1 p.m.
Denton, Texas The Super Pit (10,500)
Radio: MGRN - 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
Webcast: Mean Green All-Access | Subscription | ($)
Live Stats: MeanGreenSports.com
RPI: NT - 192, SFA - 88
Series: SFA leads 33-31 Last: NT 76 at SFA 70, Dec. 6, 2006
DENTON, Texas - "Switchables" is Tony Benford's term for do-it-all players. The second year North Texas head coach has worked to field a team of switchables, and the result is versatility. The Mean Green will need all of that versatility when the defending Southland regular season champions come to the Super Pit on Sunday afternoon.
Every active player on the NT roster averages double-digit minutes, and has scored in each of the last three games. Five different players have led NT in scoring through nine games and eight players average better than 6.0 points per game. The varied looks have helped NT up its scoring average from 66.2 points per game in 2012-13 to 76.8 this season.
Defense and ball security are the hallmarks of SFA basketball. Until a 72-62 loss at Texas on Nov. 15, SFA had held their previous 66 opponents under 70 points. That streak covered two full seasons, and dated back to 2010-11.
The Lumberjacks rank 66th in the NCAA by holding their opponents to 65.9 points per game, and their 65 total steals are 83rd nationally. SFA's turnover margin of +5.3 (11th in the NCAA) means they are forcing 16.2 turnovers per game, while committing just 10.9 of their own (55th in the NCAA).
SFA's Jacob Parker ranks 22nd in the NCAA with four double-doubles on the year. The 6-foot-6 Parker is averaging 16.6 points on 56.7 percent shooting and 7.4 rebounds per game - all team highs. Last season, Parker was a first-team Academic All-Southland Conference selection.
North Texas and SFA have shared a lenthy rivalry that dates back to 1925-26. SFA holds a slim 33-31 edge in the series, although NT is 6-4 against the Lumberjacks at the Super Pit. The two programs competed as conference foes in the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1926-31), Lone Star Conference (1932-49) and Southland Conference (1988-96). NT has taken the only two meetings since departing the Southland in 1996.
Including the Lumberjacks, North Texas' next five opponents have a combined 28-13 (68.3 percent) record as of Dec. 9.