Scouting North Texas

News, notes and quotes on No. 7 KU's matchup with North Texas Friday in Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. (CT) while hoping the Jayhawks can tie the school's all-time homecourt winning streak (62 games from 1994-98) in spectacular fashion.

SCOUTING NORTH TEXAS

North Texas returns two starters and six letterwinners off last year's team, which went 24-9 overall and 13-5 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mean Green, who won the Sun Belt Championship Tournament in 2010, had an 11-game winning streak before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to K-State, 82-62.

UNT (located in Denton, Texas, with an enrollment of 36,206), the unanimous pick to win the Sun Belt Conference West Division by league coaches, is 2-0 this season with home victories over Henderson State (92-66) and Texas Tech (92-83). The Mean Green's overtime victory over TTU on Tuesday made them 3-0 at the Super Pit against Big 12 teams under head coach Johnny Jones, with their two other victories coming over Baylor in the 2003-04 season and also beating Oklahoma State in the 2007-08 season.

The crowd of 7,105— the fifth largest ever for a UNT game at the Super Pit — rushed the court after the buzzer Tuesday night.

Senior guard Josh White led four North Texas players in double figures with 32 points, while senior forward George Odufuwa added a double-double with 14 points and 15 boards.

The Mean Green rallied from a 67-60 deficit with 5:39 left to send the game into overtime, where North Texas outscored TTU 18-9 for the victory.

"We are resilient and are going to keep fighting to the end," Odufuwa told the Denton Record-Chronicle. "We did a good job of communicating and keeping our composure. We just kept hanging around."

KU coach Bill Self said UNT's victory wasn't "a shock win, but as good as Texas Tech is, I was a little surprised by the score."

Self has great respect for the Mean Green. The KU head man calls them  a very fast and athletic team which can compete with the big boys.

"I thought they played K-State pretty good in the first round last year (of NCAAs)," Self said. "They beat Oklahoma State a couple of years ago when those kids were freshmen, and of course they got the big win (against Texas Tech). They have our respect without question. Their perimeter (players) can all score, and their big guys are all quick and active. Their big guys don't shoot a lot of three-pointers, but those other three guys are really aggressive offensively.

"...Their guards are really good. They can score off the bounce. If you watch our team play, I'd say our biggest negativity defensively, besides low post, is our inability to guard the ball. We're not able to guard small, quick guys with the ball. North Texas certainly has the ability."

The Jayhawks are looking forward to the challenge.

"Every team gets my attention. You can't overlook a team, but beating a team in the Big 12 definitely got my attention," junior forward Marcus Morris said about UNT's win over Texas Tech.

"I think it's going to be a good game," junior guard Tyshawn Taylor added. "They like to get up and down (the court) like we want to play, so I think it's going to be fun."

North Texas is a veteran team which starts four seniors and a junior. White, a preseason All-Sun Belt First-Team selection, leads UNT in scoring at 20.5 points per game. Senior guard Tristan Thompson is next in scoring (18.0 ppg), followed by senior guard Dominique Johnson (16.5 ppg) and Odufuwa (10.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg), who was one of 15 players last season in NCAA Division I to average a double-double with 11.5 points and 11 boards per game.

Other players contributing to the attack are junior forward Kedrick Hogans (9.5 ppg, team-high six blocks), sophomore forward Jacob Holmen (6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), junior forward Alonzo Edwards (4.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg), and senior guard Shannon Shorter (2.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg).

Coach Jones is in his 10th season at North Texas with a 152-121 record. He is the only UNT coach to lead the Mean Green to two NCAA Tournament appearances (2007 and 2010). Jones ranks second in program history in career wins.

TERRIFIC TYSHAWN

Taylor is off to an impressive start this season. He's continued his strong exhibition play in his first two regular-season games, averaging 12.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, while shooting 47.4 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and 83.3 percent at the free-throw line.

Self believes Taylor will continue his strong play throughout the season.

"I think he's playing much better," Self said. "He has some mental lapses, but he's trying so hard. I love his try level. He's going to have a terrific year because I think he cares that much. He's growing every day, so I'm pleased with him."

SEEING DOUBLE

Twins Markieff and Marcus Morris had Valparaiso head coach Homer Drew gushing after KU's 79-44 victory Monday night. The twins recorded double-doubles with Marcus scoring 22 points (10-of-12 shooting) with 11 rebounds and Markieff tallying 12 points and 13 boards.

"Oh my goodness, they just do so much," Drew said. "They're mobile, they're hard to guard, they can shoot from outside, they power you inside. And when one shoots it, what scares you, is the other one dunks if he misses. They're really two very talented players."

Phog.net Top Stories