Historic Defense Leads North Texas Into C-USA Play Friday
UTEP Will Face A North Texas Zone Holding Opponents To Just 38.5 Percent From The Floor
North Texas (6-6, 0-0 C-USA) vs. UTEP (8-4, 0-0 C-USA)
DENTON - The defensive numbers that North Texas is putting up this season are nothing short of historic, and the Mean Green will need another outstanding outing to top a UTEP squad that comes into Denton on fire.
This season the Mean Green is holding its opponents to 38.5 percent shooting overall and 30.8 percent from 3-point, which are the lowest marks in the recorded history of NT basketball (accurate opponent records date to 1962-63). In fact, no other NT team on record has ever held their opponents under 40 percent from the floor, and only one NT team allowed fewer points per game than this year's 66.0 (65.0 PPG in 2011-12).
The Miners were tabbed to finish second in the C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll, and Vince Hunter and Julian Washburn were named to the 10-man Preseason All-C-USA team. Hunter was last year's C-USA Freshman of the Year, and is averaging 16.5 points and 10.4 rebounds this year. Washburn, a senior, has racked up 1,302 career points.
Few teams in college hoops share the ball like the Miners, and the results speak for themselves. UTEP ranks second in C-USA and 64th in the NCAA with 15.1 assists per game. All those dimes help the Miners shoot a C-USA high 47.1 percent from the floor, which ranks 53rd in the country.
Friday will be the Conference USA opener for the Mean Green, which is in its second year in C-USA. North Texas is 7-7 in conference openers since the year 2000, but has lost its last three. Last year, Southern Miss downed NT, 74-64, at the Super Pit in the C-USA opener on Jan. 9.
The recipe for Mean Green success on the offensive end of the floor is to play inside-out. In C-USA, only UTEP (158) has attempted fewer 3-pointers than NT (180), and NT's 30.0 percent clip from deep ranks 12th in the league. However, NT ranks seventh in C-USA with a mark of 48.1 percent on 2-point field goal attempts.