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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Mean Green of North Texas

Your Georgetown Hoyas may have lost a heartbreaker in overtime against the dreaded Syracuse on Saturday, but the Hoyas have a chance to bounce back Wednesday night. They’ll be playing the North Texas Mean Green of Conference USA. For a little more info, we turned to Greg Goedecker of Mean Green Nation. You can follow the site on Twitter @meangreennation.

North Texas! Tell us something cool about UNT that we might not know.

Lots of cool and famous people went there. The original Robocop, Peter Weller is an alumni.

North Texas gets its rep as one of the best music schools out there, but it was the first university in the country to offer a bachelors in Emergency Management. With so many natural and manmade disasters out there today, someone has to handle it.

So how have the Mean Green done this season? How do their chances look in Conference USA?

If you ask any Mean Green basketball fan they’d say they are very happy with how the season has gone. Ever since the loss to UT Rio Grande Valley, this team has been getting better. They gave Oklahoma all they wanted. They had the last shot and a chance to beat a top mid major program in UT Arlington. Now they went on the road and beat a quality opponent in San Diego.

The most disappointing part of this season has been the injuries and missing players. North Texas lost one of their primary ball handlers and outside shooters in Umoja Gibson. Gibson was lost for the season after injuring his ankle against Nebraska in game number 2. During the loss to UTA guard Jorden Duffy hurt his knee. Duffy may be back for this game. They’ve also been waiting for the NCAA to clear freshman forward Mark Tikhonenko. Tikhonenko is a stretch 4 who would provide North Texas with another outside threat. I believe coach Grant McCasland has done a terrific job coaching this team up, and getting the most of out of what he has. This team plays hard every night and has been fun to watch.

CUSA is a tough conference this year. The top 5 teams are all capable of winning the league, and a game in March. The middle tier is about 4 to 5 teams that on any given night can pull of an upset. I’d put North Texas in that middle tier. They won’t win the league, but they will pull a few upsets. Above all they are going to be tough team to beat.

Which players should Georgetown fans be particularly aware of prior to Wednesday's matchup?

Early in the year it was a lot of dribble drive motion, now you’re going to see North Texas run a lot of sets with a slower tempo. Coach McCasland likes to control the pace. Going into the San Diego game North Texas was averaging over 18 seconds per possession. San Diego was also a team that liked to play slow, so North Texas sped the game up. From the looks of things it would appear that Georgetown likes to play at a faster pace. So expect North Texas to take their time run their sets, and look to get a quality shot near the end of the possession. One of the reasons they can get quality shots late, is because Ryan Woolridge and AJ Lawson can break down your defense.

I do feel it’s important to say that just because North Texas is playing at a slower pace, doesn’t mean that this Mean Green team can’t run. They are actually a good fast break team. I think because of the injuries and depth issues they choose to be selective when they run. If the opportunity to run is there against Georgetown then expect North Texas to push it. Otherwise Woolridge will be walking it down.

Defensively North Texas will primarily guard you in a man to man defense. They might throw a zone at you once or twice a game. North Texas does a good job most of their time with their primary defense. Where North Texas gets in trouble is with their aggressive style, they tend to get in foul trouble too often. Overall they are a pretty good mid major defensive team. They handle size well. They team rebound very well. You’ll see the North Texas guards get after it on the defensive glass. You’re either going to have to move the ball well, or make contested shots.

Any thoughts on the Hoyas this year? What do you think of Patrick Ewing as a coach?

I’ve had a chance to watch them much yet, but by the looks of things Coach Ewing has got your team playing at a good level. Y’all haven’t been challenged much, because of your schedule, cupcake city.

Overall I think the move to Ewing was a great move. It was time for a change, and Ewing has already gotten a lot of time as an assistant in the NBA. If he is able to recruit there is no reason why the Hoyas can’t get back to being a really good program.

So... where is the best BBQ in Texas, anyway?

If you asked 50 different Texans, you’d get 50 different answers on this one. Snow’s BBQ tops the Texas Monthly top 50. I’ve never had a chance to go, but it’s on my list. For me it’s Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. Their beef rib is awesome.

How excited are you for The Last Jedi?

I’d say I’m moderately excited, my wife is a Star Wars nerd so she is super excited.

Rank your top three Christmas/Holiday songs. Please elaborate as needed.

  1. Silent Night. As a kid we would sing this every Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house before opening gifts. Lots of sentimental value.
  2. Joy to the World
  3. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas – Bing Crosby. Because every Texan dreams of a white Christmas.

Final score prediction?

Looking at your schedule I’d say North Texas is the 2nd toughest team y’all will have faced. It won’t be an easy game for Georgetown, and I’ve told Mean Green fans that it’s a winnable game. My hesitation in picking an upset is that North Texas just played Saturday out west, and won an emotional game. Now they have to travel to the East Coast to take on another quality opponent. That’s tough for a young team. I’m not sure how they will handle success yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if North Texas is a bit sloppy and sluggish. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Mean Green come out ready to play.

I’m going to say Georgetown wins this game by 5. I think North Texas will be sloppy early, but they will battle back to make it a game. Georgetown will survive the scare from North Texas by knocking down free throws.