Round Five: North Texas Versus Rice
Mean Green And Owls Have Had Their Overtime Classics
DENTON -- After Wednesday's Conference USA opener at Louisiana Tech, the North Texas women's basketball team has returned to the Super Pit for a 7 p.m. tip-off against Rice on Friday.
The Mean Green (9-4, 0-1 C-USA) will host a red-hot Owls (10-2, 0-0 C-USA) team that has had all week to prepare for North Texas and enters the game on a five-game winning streak.
UNT and Rice have played each other four times in the last two seasons and three of those games have gone into overtime, including a double and a triple overtime affair.
The only game over the last two years that didn't go into overtime was on Jan. 14, 2017 in Denton, but even that was a two-point game, which the Owls pulled out after going on a 14-2 run in the end.
However, both teams have very different personnel from the past two seasons.
Leading scorer Terriell Bradley is the only returning starter from last season's Mean Green roster and no starter from the 2015-16 team remains.
Like last season, the Mean Green are still led by Bradley, but the guard has taken her game to another level. Bradley has had seven 20-plus scoring outings, four more than she had all of last year.
She is also averaging almost two more rebounds per game compared to last season.
Three of UNT's everyday starters are newcomers.
Additionally, junior college transfer point guard Brittany Smith has joined the Mean Green and their starter lineup. Smith had seven assists on Wednesday against LA Tech.
Post Micayla Buckner was a key role player for UNT last year but has transformed into one of the best posts in C-USA.
In last season's two games versus Rice combined, Buckner played just 10 minutes.
Friday, Buckner will be leaned upon heavy by head coach Jalie Mitchell to be a force in rebounding and paint scoring. Buckner has started every game this season for UNT and recorded her second double-double on Wednesday with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Rice also looks very different on paper.
The Owls, like UNT, have overcome preseason injuries to post one of their best non-conference records in recent memory.
Rice is led by transfer Erica Ogwumike. The 5-foot-9 guard is one of the conference's leading scorers at 18.8 points per game and also adds 8.8 rebounds per game, including a 19 rebound performance in their most recent game.
Friday's game should be a clash of offense versus defense. The Owls have averaged just over 70 points per game in their 12 games this season while the Mean Green own the nation's No. 3 scoring defense, holding opponents to 51.1 points per game.
Tickets for Friday's game are half-price with the promo code HAPPYNEWYEAR and can be purchased here.
If you can't make the game, it will be streamed live on BeIN Sports Connect, which you can watch through your cable provider.
Mean Green Radio Network's John Liddle will call the BeIN Sports telecast. Hank Dickenson and Blake Jones will be on the Mean Green Radio network. You can listen to the game on KNTU 88.1 FM.