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Rice Takes On Tourney Seasoned Mean Green

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 23rd, 8:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: The Super Pit (10,032) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Rice 3-0, UNT 2-0. Away Record: Rice 0-1, UNT 0-1. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, UNT 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-0, UNT 0-0. Series Record: North Texas leads, 8-3.

GAME NOTES: Lone Star State squads collide in Denton tonight, as the North Texas Mean Green play host to the Rice Owls.

The Owls come into the meeting with three wins in four tries so far this season, although those victories have come against some lesser-known opponents. After opening with a double-digit win over St. Thomas, Rice moved on to Grambling State and picked up a sizeable win there as well. The first and only loss for the group was on the road at Santa Clara (66-65) last Thursday night. Saturday afternoon saw Rice post a 75-58 victory versus St. Gregory's.

As for the Mean Green, they registered wins in their first two games of the season against Henderson State (92-66) and Texas Tech (92-83) before being blown away by nationally-ranked Kansas on Friday, 93-60, in Lawrence.

With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, UNT records show the Mean Green with an 8-3 advantage over the Owls. Last season, North Texas squeezed out a 64-62 win on the road in early December.

Another opponent from outside Division I, another lopsided win for the Owls as they cruised to a 17-point win over St. Gregory's at home. The defense for Rice was particularly aggressive, forcing 23 turnovers and holding the visitors to just 37.5 percent shooting from the floor. Arsalan Kazemi posted a team-best 19 points and added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in just 24 minutes off the bench, while Tamir Jackson was the lone starter in double figures with 14 points. A starter in three of the four games this season, Kazemi is first on the unit in scoring with 15.3 ppg and is easily the most productive in the paint with an incredible 12.0 rpg as well. Jackson checks in with 12.8 ppg and Connor Frizzelle another 10.0 ppg to help provide the squad with a scoring advantage of more than 14 ppg at the moment.

North Texas trailed by just nine points at the half versus Kansas the last time out, but then the defense for the Mean Green fell apart and allowed the Jayhawks to knock down a sizzling 69.0 percent from the floor after the break, including 8-of-10 beyond the arc in the eventual 33-point decision. Tristan Thompson tallied a team-best 14 points for the visitors but he missed all six of his three-point tries, the team finishing 0-of-12 beyond the arc. Dominique Johnson chipped in 11 points and five assists off the bench and Josh White 10 points for the starters. White, who is averaging 34 minutes per game, is tops on the scoring list for the Mean Green with 17.0 ppg, although his 28.6 percent accuracy out on the perimeter has to be drawn into question. The high- scoring offense (81.3 ppg) is shooting just 27.3 percent behind the three- point line as a whole, compared to an astonishing 46.5 percent for the opposition.

North Texas simply can't continue to run up and down the floor and expect to come up with victories on a regular basis. However, the fact that Rice has padded its stats with weak opponents means the Owls are not prepared for a team like the Mean Green.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 79, Rice 70

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