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Men’s basketball squares off with defending SBC champs
Brett Medeiros / Staff Writer
The Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers are visiting Denton tonight for a rematch of last year’s Sun Belt Conference final.
UNT (8-16, 3-10) is currently on the wrong end of a four game losing streak that has all but eliminated the team’s chance to compete for the West Division title.
The Hilltoppers (12-11, 6-6) come back to Denton as the defending Sun Belt champs, hoisting a 14-5 all-time record over the Mean Green.
“We have to stick together and not give up on this season,” senior forward Niko Stojiljkovic said. “There is still a lot of basketball left. These guys [WKU] play hard. We just have to remember the finals last year to help motivate us even more.”
In the previous match on Dec. 29, and the Mean Green was handed a 70-64 loss on the road.
“Really we are just looking forward to being at home and getting some chances to be at home and improve our seed,” head coach Tony Benford said. “If we come out and play good defense and take care of the ball, we will have a chance to win this game.”
Against WKU, the Mean Green hit 5-11 attempts from three, posting a 45.5 percentage. That acts as an outlier to the rest of the season.
UNT is one of the worst three point shooting teams in the country. Out of 347 Division I teams, UNT sits at 338, with a 27 percentage behind the arc.
Since 2006, the Mean Green is 80-22 in the Super Pit which will play to its advantage tonight, but with a diminished roster and a historically unfavorable matchup ahead, UNT will need all healthy members of the team to be on their game. That begins with sophomore forward Tony Mitchell.
When Mitchell takes more than 14 shots, the Mean Green is 5-2.
“This will be a physical, emotional and tough game,” senior guard Brandan Walton said. “It’s going to come down to the hustle stats like rebounds and getting loose balls, but I think we got it.”
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Super Pit and the game will be televised on TXA-21.