Mean Green Face Defending Champions

Jan. 7, 2017

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- North Texas women's basketball is at Middle Tennessee Saturday and could do something it hasn't done since 2002.

The Mean Green (5-9, 2-1 C-USA) haven't won at the Lady Raiders' (7-6, 2-0 C-USA) Murphy Center arena since current head coach Jalie Mitchell was a senior at North Texas. Since then, the Mean Green have lost eight straight in Murfreesboro and 13 straight overall to Middle Tennessee.

North Texas' defense will need to continue to play at its high level to try and stop Middle Tennessee's Ty Petty and Alex Johnson as well as the streak. Saturday's game can be heard live on KNTU 88.1 FM with Mean Green Radio Network's John Liddle doing play-by-play and it can also be heard on CUSA.TV.

Since the calendar changed to 2017, North Texas has seen a change too. They're undefeated in the new year and have held opposing teams to season lows in points scored during regulation. A major contribution to limiting the last two opposing teams has been the defense on the respected top scorer.

The leading scorer on the last two opposing teams has scored 9.75 points below their season average.

Saturday, North Texas faces the defending C-USA Tournament champs whose top two scorers this season are averaging 17.8 and 16.4 points per game. The Lady Raiders' Petty and Johnson are responsible for 53 percent of the team's 833 points scored this season. A win Saturday over Middle Tennessee would give the Mean Green their first three-game winning streak of the season and the program's first three-game winning streak in conference play since 2013, which was also the last time they won two road conference games in a row.

Mitchell won her first overtime game as the Mean Green head coach on Thursday. North Texas defeated UAB 59-58 in overtime in Birmingham, Ala. The win didn't come without some late stressful moments. North Texas opened the game on a 7-0 run and took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter. They quickly saw that lead evaporate when the Blazers opened the final quarter on a run of their own. In overtime, North Texas' senior Terra Ellison had two key steals and made three free throws in the final minute to lead North Texas to the win. (full recap).

Against UAB on Thursday, North Texas held the Blazers' leading scorer Deanna Kuzmanic to zero points. The game prior, the Mean Green limited Old Dominion's Jennie Simms to 14 points. Simms was averaging 25.1 points per game at the time, the second highest in the nation.



Also against UAB, the Mean Green only gave up three 3-pointers. The Blazers entered the game as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the conference and had made nine 3-pointers in recent games. Thursday, UAB was never able to get in a 3-point shooting rhythm.

North Texas junior Tosin Mabodu has started the last four games at the post position after starting just once in the 10 games prior. Mabodu, who transferred to Denton last season, only made three starts all of last year. Mabodu played a career-high 27 minutes Thursday at UAB. Her previous high was 24 versus the Blazers last season. Thursday, Mabodu scored eight points and had seven rebounds. She had her first career double-double on Dec. 5, 2016, at Tulsa when she scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds coming off the bench.

North Texas last won at Middle Tennessee in 2002 when current Mean Green head coach Jalie Mitchell was a senior on the North Texas team. The 74-72 win came after the Mean Green mounted a second half comeback and outscored MT 39-34 in the second half. Mitchell led her team with 21 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

                                                      MATCHUP AT A GLANCE

     North Texas                              MT
              5-9 (2-1 C-USA)                  7-6 (2-0 C-USA)
               T-3rd in C-USA                    T-3rd in C-USA
                   61.0 PPG                            64.1 PPG
                   31.6 RPG                            32.5 RPG
                    9.9 APG                             14.0 APG


                     TEAM LEADERS
     North Texas                                            MT
PTS: Bradley (12.3)                          PTS: Johnson (17.8)
 REB: Ellison (6.1)                               REB: Lyon (5.6)
 AST: Criner (3.69)                               AST: Petty (5.3)

Redshirt sophomore Mean Green guard Terriell Bradley will need to be huge for North Texas as they can't afford to have her on the bench in foul trouble. While freshman Adrianna Henderson filled in nicely for Bradley when she was in foul trouble versus UAB, the experience the elder Bradley can supply, especially when guarding players such as Petty, is important.

The Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders have jumped out to a undefeated 2-0 start in the conference schedule on the backs of the performances of Alex Johnson and Ty Petty. The two are averaging over 20 points a game over the past two games while taking a combined 66 of the team's 111 shot attempts in conference play, but for good reason. Petty is a dynamic point guard who can be a nightmare to guard off the ball. She was named the national player of the week last week for her performance in the Lady Raiders' two games.

North Texas Mean Green