North Texas guard JJ Murray (11) shoots while defended by West Virginia guard Sean McNeil (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)
- The North Texas Mean Green Eagles (9-5, 5-1 Conference USA) host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (14-5, 7-3 Conference USA) Friday, Feb. 5
- Both teams enter the tilt on a hot streak, with the home team winning four straight and La Tech on a three-game roll
- Read below for odds, analysis, and best bet for this matchup
The North Texas Mean Green Eagles (9-5, 5-1 Conference USA), winners of four straight and eight of their last ten, host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (14-5, 7-3 Conference USA) Friday, Feb. 5 in Denton. Tip is set for 8 pm ET inside UNT Coliseum.
The Bulldogs started league play 1-2, but have won six of their last seven, and are now in third place in Conference USA’s West Division. One spot ahead of La Tech is North Texas. The Mean Green have been just as hot of late, sweeping UTEP and Rice in their previous two conference series.
Louisiana Tech vs North Texas Odds
|Louisiana Tech||+4.5 (-110)||+172||Over 131.5 (-110)|
|North Texas||-4.5 (-110)||-205||Under 131.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 4 at FanDuel
Louisiana Tech is coming off a two-game series sweep of Southern Mississippi. Senior guard Amorie Archibald had a team-high 15 points and buried a pair clutch free throws with two seconds left to help secure a 65-62 home win on Saturday. The Bulldogs securing the front end of the sweep with a 76-63 victory in Hattiesburg last Thursday.
North Texas is the defending Conference USA champion and feature reigning C-USA Player of the Year Javion Hamlet. The senior from Memphis is averaging 13.9 points per game and 4.8 assists per game, both team highs.
The Mean Green have yet to lose on their home court this season (7-0), so it’s not surprising they’re favored Friday. The lone loss at the Super Pit? The last time the Bulldogs visited Denton.
Exuberance of Youth
The Bulldogs feature five players averaging in double figures, ranging from senior guard Kaleb Ledoux’s 11.7 points per game to senior forward JaColby Pemberton’s 10.0 points per game. That balance has helped La Tech win 14 games overall (tied for the most in the conference with UAB) and earn a fifth-best rating (at No. 111 overall) in Conference USA. The quality of play was on display against the Golden Eagles.
More AND1s!!@ZayThaKlaw2 pic.twitter.com/YOUXFvnBee
— Bulldog Basketball 🐶🏀 (@LATechHoops) January 30, 2021
Part of that group of double-digit scorers is 6-foot-7 forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. The Port Arthur native has been a revelation for head coach Eric Konkol during his first year in Ruston. All the kid has done is earn C-USA Freshman of the Week honors five times this season, including last week coming off a two-game series sweep of Southern Miss.
La Tech can also defend. Their bread-and-butter is field goal percentage defense. Holding opponents to just 40.1-percent, they’re ranked second in the conference and 38th in the country in the important category.
If Konkol’s crew can keep the clamps on North Texas — and Lofton continues his marvelous debut campaign — the Bulldogs have a shot for a rare win in Denton.
To Ball Or Not to Ball…
How has head coach Grant McCasland put his team in position to defend its regular season league crown? The Mean Green make the most of possessions and takes care of business on their home court. More on the latter point below.
UNT is one of the most efficient groups in the country, shooting a league-best 49.7-percent from the field and 39.4-percent from distance. Those rates also put McCasland’s team in the top-20 in the country. Plus, having one of the more underrated players in the country on your roster helps.
While Hamelt’s 13.9 points per game is down a bit from last year’s breakout season — when he averaged 14.6 points per game — . he’s still the focal point of the Mean Green’s offense. Whether or not La Tech can do enough to contain him remains to be seen.
Protect This House
The only teams to beat North Texas at the Super Pit over the last two seasons are Oklahoma, Eastern Michigan…and Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs upended the Mean Green 73-71 last Feb. 22, the only home blemish in the last calendar year.
That’s an impressive record of home dominance. Can the Bulldogs pull off another upset in Denton? Konkol’s squad has won its last two road games (against UTEP and Southern Miss), but at 4-4 on the road, La Tech is far from a juggernaut away from Ruston. I’m going with the dominant home team in this spot.
The pick: North Texas (-205)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.