Pregame: UNT basketball teams set for intriguing showdown with FAU tonight

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Coach Grant McCasland sees what could be a tough road ahead as North Texas enters the heart of its Conference USA schedule.

It’s not that UNT doesn’t have a quality team. The Mean Green are 10-2 and riding a five-game winning streak into their C-USA home opener Thursday night against Florida Atlantic.

McCasland just sees plenty of quality teams on UNT’s slate.

“When you look at our league as a whole, there’s quality across the board,” McCasland said. “It’s the best our league has been since we have been in it. It’s going to be tough no matter when and where you play people.”

That will certainly be the case when UNT faces the Owls in a showdown between two of the top teams in C-USA. FAU has run out to an 11-1 start, won at Florida and is 1-0 in conference play after beating rival Florida International.

UNT (10-2) beat UTSA in its conference opener and knows building on that performance won’t be easy against the Owls in what will be a game featuring a contrast in styles.

FAU averages 80.9 points per game and has hit a league high 121 shots from 3-point range. UNT ranks second nationally in scoring defense with an average of 51.8 points allowed per game.

“This will be a test,” UNT guard Tylor Perry said. “FAU is playing really well and is really well coached. They are a good offensive team.

“It will be a contrast. They like to get up and down. We know how we like to play.”

For UNT that is slow, an approach that has worked for the Mean Green for years.

Perry is averaging 17.2 points per game to lead UNT, which has had a number of players come through early in the season. Abou Ousmane scored 37 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in UNT’s win over UTSA, one of the best games for a UNT forward in recent memory.

The Roadrunners tried to take away Perry and fellow guard Kai Huntsberry. UNT capitalized by getting the ball in deep to Ousmane.

“Things like that happen,” Ousmane said. “It’s a game I’m going to remember, especially since we won.”

UNT knows it will face an entirely different challenge when it faces FAU. The Owls have nine players who average at least five points per game. Sophomore guard Alijah Martin leads FAU with an average of 14.0 points per game.

“The tempo and the way they shoot 3s is a big part of their plan, but they have experience at every position,” McCasland said. “They have the depth and what it takes to win our league.”

There are several teams that appear to have that type of firepower.

UAB is 10-2 and is among eight teams with at least eight wins. C-USA’s depth will present plenty of challenges for UNT, beginning with its showdown with FAU.

UNT women to open league play

The UNT women’s team will open C-USA play on Thursday night when it faces FAU in Boca Raton, Florida.

UNT (3-7) will look to turn its season around after a rough run through nonconference play. FAU (8-2) beat rival FIU 70-60 in its conference opener.

Junior guard Quincy Noble is averaging 18.0 points per game to lead UNT.

Source: Den Tonrc