Date: Tuesday, November 12
Time: 7:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: SEC Network +
The Mean Green:
2019-20 Record: 1-1
Head Coach: Grant McCasland (3rd season, 42-31)
The Grant McCasland era has started strong in Denton, Texas for the Mean Green. North Texas was looking to make a jump last year after winning the CBI in 2017-18. After an early February win over Marshall, the Mean Green were 20-4. With NCAA hopes, what happened to finish the season no one could have expected. The Mean Green lost 7 of their final 8 games. Injuries plagued the team in February. The Mean Green hope to rebound on a disappointing season’s end.
McCasland is a disciple of Baylor’s Scott Drew. Like Drew, McCasland can coach. In my opinion, He was a C List option for the Arkansas job back in April. After winning 20 games at Arkansas State during his one season in Jonesboro, I was a believer. He has continued his success in Denton, but has been harmed by some bad luck.
In 2019-20, McCasland must replace three double-digit scorers. Guards Michael Miller and Jordan Duffy both graduated. While Ryan Woolridge left for Gonzaga as a graduate transfer. Replacing that amount of scoring is no small task. To make things worse, returning double-digit scorer Roosevelt Smart is currently suspended.
Despite the need to replace production, the Mean Green have not missed a beat. So far, North Texas has cruised to an easy win over DII Oklahoma Christian and lost by to #25 VCU. It is early, but playing VCU on the road and losing by three is incredible given the amount of turnover. North Texas should be a threat in Conference USA this year.
2019-20 Record: 1-0
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Arkansas will look to dominate on defense again on Tuesday after only allowing Rice to a measly 43 points in their opener. The defensive rebounding and suffocating on-ball pressure was truly the difference in the game.
Turnovers have been the bur in the Arkansas’ side so far this season. Coach Eric Musselman said Thursday, “With us, turnovers are probably going to be an issue all year. It’s just a matter of how much we can cover up that band aid.” Most of these blunders have been live ball turnovers. That is a recipe for easy points for the opponent.
After watching Arkansas’ opener, I was extremely impressed with the preparation the staff had done. Players knew what was expected of them and executed. I look forward to each game seeing how the staff has prepared differently for each opponent.
This is an interesting matchup. North Texas has a few productive postmen who have produced so far this season. How Arkansas rebounds and guards these frontcourt players will be key. The Hogs will again be without Sophomore Forward Reggie Chaney due to suspension. Adrio Bailey, Ethan Henderson, and Jeantal Cylla will have to stay out of foul trouble.
North Texas has forced 39 turnovers in 2 games while committing 33 of their own. That could be huge deciding factor in Tuesday night’s contest. The Arkansas guards must take care of the basketball and continue the defensive intensity we saw on opening night.
I believe defense will win this game, but it will be closer than most think.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 71, North Texas 64
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!