Tulane (8-8) at North Texas (9-6)

The Sports NetworkJanuary 11, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The Tulane Green Wave and the North Texas Mean Green will both try for their first Conference USA victory of the season on Saturday afternoon when the squads meet up at UNT Coliseum.

Tulane is 8-8 on the season but has been trending in the wrong direction of late with losses in two of its last three games. The Green Wave dropped their C-USA opener in a blowout on Thursday night at Tulsa, 97-71, to dip to 1-2 on the road.

UNT also lost its first league matchup of the season on Thursday, falling at home to Southern Miss, 74-64, to snap a season-long four game winning streak. Despite the setback, the Mean Green have still been largely impressive this season at 9-6 overall, which includes a 7-2 mark at home in Denton.

This marks the first-ever meeting on the hardwood between these newly-formed C-USA rivals.

The Green Wave were blown out of the gym early in their most recent contest, as they found themselves down by 28 at the end of the first half and never sniffed the lead from that point on. They shot a strong 48 percent from the field, but they had no answer for red-hot Tulsa, which made 33-of-58 from the field (.569), including 11-of-23 from 3-point range. Louis Dabney paced the losing effort with 17 points on 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line. Jonathan Stark had 14 points, Tre Drye scored 13 and Cameron Reynolds came off the bench to net 10.

Thursday's game was a microcosm of Tulane's season, as its lackluster scoring defense (73.8 ppg) oftentimes lets down the offensive attack (.427 FG percentage, 68.4 ppg). Dabney is one of C-USA's premiere scorers, putting up 18.2 ppg on just shy of 45 percent from the field, and he's also an active perimeter defender with a team-high 20 steals. Stark scores 16.6 ppg and hands out 4.1 apg. Jay Hook (15.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) rounds out an impressive scoring trio and has made 34-of-70 from beyond the arc (.486), but Drye (6.2 ppg) is the only other player to average more than four points per contest.

The Mean Green never held a lead over USM in their C-USA opener earlier in the week, as they were outshot from the field, 46.7 percent to 42.1 percent, and while they helped their cause by forcing 22 turnovers, USM ultimately kept them at bay by piecing together an outstanding night at the free-throw line (28-of-33). Jordan Williams scored 17 points in the setback, while Maurice Aniefiok was the only other player in double figures, putting up 12 points off the bench.

UNT has for the most part struggled with its shot this season, posting less than impressive percentages from the field (.423), 3-point range (.327) and the foul line (.653), and its 72.7 ppg is slightly less than what it allows on the other end of the floor (73.3 ppg). Still, the team boasts an above-.500 record by going 4-1 in games decided by five points or less. Alzee Williams is the top scoring threat, posting 13.9 ppg on 46.8 percent from the field, while Jordan Williams (11.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has been much less effective from the floor (.375). Chris Jones, T.J. Taylor, Vertrail Vaughns and Aniefiok bring solid depth to the squad, each scoring between 7.7 and 8.2 ppg.

The Mean Green have been strong in their home arena this season for the most part, and against a Green Wave team that fell flat on the road Thursday night, they should be able to get back on the winning track.

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