GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane will wrap up a three-game homestand at the Reynolds Center on Saturday afternoon when they do battle with the North Texas Mean Green in Conference USA action.
Despite North Texas's 11-9 overall record this season, it has not fared well since entering C-USA play, losing four of its six league matchups, most recently falling at home to Middle Tennessee last Saturday, 70-63. The Mean Green have struggled mightily away from home, going just 1-6 in true road games.
Tulsa is fresh off a loss to UAB last Saturday, 70-63, but it has still impressed in conference action with a 4-2 record. The Golden Hurricane are still under .500 on the season (9-11), but they sport an impressive 7-3 mark on their home floor.
The all-time series is 37-13 in favor of Tulsa, although this is the first meeting since the 2006-07 season between the newly-acquainted conference rivals.
The Mean Green ran out to a four-point lead at the half of their most recent contest but were outmatched by Middle Tennessee in the second half before eventually suffering the seven-point setback, getting outshot from the field on the evening, 51 percent to 43.1 percent, and losing the rebounding battle, 35-26. Jordan Williams led the losing effort with 16 points, while Vertrail Vaughns and Maurice Aniefiok netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
On the season, North Texas shoots 43.2 percent from the field while allowing opponents to make just 41.5 percent of its field goal tries, but it still has a -0.2 scoring margin due to its poor showings from beyond the arc (.335) and the free-throw line (.661). Jordan Williams shoots a meager 39.8 percent from the field, including 28.1 percent from 3-point range, but he generates enough volume to lead the team with 12.3 ppg. Alzee Williams is right on his heels with 12.1 ppg. No one else scores in double figures, but six others net at least 5.7 ppg.
The Golden Hurricane were in the midst of a tight battle with UAB in their latest game until the Blazers separated themselves with a 21-11 run late in the second half. Neither team shot greater than 38 percent from the field, but Tulsa was outscored at the free-throw line, 19-13, and was dominated on the boards, 50-35. James Woodard shot just 5-of-14 from the floor but finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Rashad Ray came off the bench to tally 10 points.
Scoring points usually isn't a problem for Tulsa this season, as it pours in 73.0 ppg, but while it holds opposing teams to under 44 percent shooting, it still owns a lackluster scoring defense (74.7 ppg). It gets outrebounded by an average of 2.8 boards per game, but it helps make up for that weakness by sporting a strong +2.3 turnover margin. Woodward is the unquestioned catalyst with 14.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.0 spg, although his field goal percentage (.404) could stand to improve. Smith (12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is a much more efficient 51.5 percent shooter, while Shaquille Harrison brings 10.2 ppg and 3.5 apg to the table.
After a slow start, Tulsa has turned things around in C-USA play, while North Texas has endured the opposite fate. On their home floor, expect the Golden Hurricane to dismiss the Mean Green.
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