PREVIEW: Dream Season For SFA Motivation For Mean Green
North Texas at Stephen F. Austin - Sunday, Dec. 14 - 3 p.m.
North Texas (4-3 - C-USA) vs. SFA (6-3 - Southland)
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Simply put, Stephen F. Austin, the two-time defending Southland Conference champion, is coming off a dream season, and North Texas head coach Tony Benford knows that his charges are in for a dogfight against the Lumberjacks on Sunday afternoon.
Just last season SFA racked up a school-record 32-3 mark and the program's first NCAA Tournament victory - a 77-75 overtime thriller over No. 5 seed VCU. The Lumberjacks won 29 consecutive games over a span of nearly four months (Nov. 26 until March 23) before falling to No. 4 seed UCLA in the NCAA Tournament third round.
SFA was tied with Duke for the nation's longest home-court win streak at 34 prior to falling to Northern Iowa in overtime, 79-77, less than a month ago on Nov. 18. Prior to that loss, the last time the Jacks lost at home was to UT Arlington on Feb. 15, 2012.
Last season, Deshaunt Walker poured in 22 points to lead SFA to an 87-53 win over NT at the Super Pit on Dec. 15. SFA shot 48.2 percent and scored 28 points off 22 NT turnovers. Jordan Williams scored a team-high 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting for an NT team that was 34.9 percent from the floor.
North Texas and SFA have shared a lengthy rivalry that dates back to 1925-26. NT holds a slim 35-34 edge in the series, although the Jacks lead 20-14 in Nacogdoches. 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).