North Texas at Marshall
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington, West Virginia
Records: UNT 9-4, 2-1 Conference USA; Marshall 7-8, 0-2 Conference USA
Last game: UNT 70, Middle Tennessee 63; Florida Atlantic 90, Marshall 77
Radio: Mean Green Sports Network
Projected UNT starting lineup:
PG: Rubin Jones, 6-5, So. — Jones tied his career high with six rebounds in a solid all-around performance in UNT's win over MTSU. The sophomore added 10 points and two assists. He has scored in double figures in two of UNT's last three games and is averaging 9.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
G: JJ Murray, 6-1, Sr. — Murray scored six points, handed out three assists and grabbed three rebounds in UNT's win over MTSU. The senior has been a key cog in UNT's defense and has 23 steals on the year. He is averaging 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
G: Mardrez McBride, 6-2, Sr. — McBride is in the midst of his best stretch of the season offensively after scoring in double figures in three straight games. He scored 11 points in UNT's win over MTSU and is averaging 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
F: Thomas Bell, 6-6, Sr. — Bell has been in a bit of an offensive slump of late and scored five points in UNT's win over MTSU. He has scored 16 points in UNT's last three games combined but is still averaging 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He has pulled down at least six rebounds in three straight games.
F: Abou Ousmane, 6-10, So. — Ousmane played just over 14 minutes in UNT's win over MTSU, which pushed the pace and forced the Mean Green to go to a smaller lineup. Ousmane scored four points and grabbed six rebounds against the Blue Raiders. He is averaging 8.4 points and 5.2 rebound per game.
Marshall has lost its last five games with each of those losses coming by double digits.
The Thundering Herd was blown out by FAU in its last outing. Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni told Grant Traylor of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch that his team has to find edge again.
"We've got to get a swaggger and that's hard to do when you've lot five straight," D'Antoni told Traylor. "Without that, bad things happen."
Marshall pushes the pace offensively and is averaging 76.8 points per game behind Taevion Kinsey. The junior guard is averaging 19.3 points and is the second-leading scorer in C-USA.
What you need to know:
UNT will venture out on the road for the first time in C-USA play this week for what is always a challenging road trip to Marshall and Western Kentucky.
The Mean Green's game against Marshall will be intriguing largely because the teams play decidedly different styles.
Marshall plays faster than just about anyone in the country. UNT plays at a snail's pace and rarely pushes the ball.
"We know how we want to play at Marshall," UNT coach Grant McCasland said. "It’s not like we don’t want to take advantage of opportunities to go get baskets. It’s just that there has to be a measured approach to how you attack them.
"You can’t be loose. You can play at a faster tempo but have to solid with what you are doing and how you are doing it."
UNT has the firepower to keep pace with Marshall. Tylor Perry has been terrific off the bench for the Mean Green and is averaging 15.1 points. He hit a contested, game-clinching 3 in UNT's win over MTSU.
It would do UNT a whole lot of good to quickly put Marshall away and get its starters some rest. The Mean Green will have a quick turnaround between their game against the Herd and a 3 p.m. game at Western Kentucky on Saturday.