EL PASO — The North Texas men's basketball team is taking its seven-game winning streak and school-record 15-1 start to UTEP on Thursday aiming to surpass its regular-season win total from a year ago and start 4-0 in conference for the first time in 1988-89.
The Mean Green who are receiving top 25 national votes in both the AP and coaches poll split their two games against the Miners (8-5, 0-2 C-USA) last year, winning on the road but losing at home. They'll tip-off at 8:00 p.m. CT on Thursday from the historic Don Haskins Center on ESPN+ and on the Mean Green Sports Radio Network, which can be found on KHYI 95.3 FM or by searching KNTU 88.1 FM on the tuneIN ap.
"We're an incredibly unselfish team and we're well bonded," said senior Michael Miller
. "We know everyone is capable of leading us. We don't care about individual accolades and stats. We're just taking it one game at a time and trying to win each game at a time."
Miller has been a catalyst for the Mean Green who are the only team in the country that has six guys with double-digit scoring averages. No one on UNT has seen more of an improvement from last year than Miller who has already scored more points and three-pointers, grabbed more rebounds and dished out more assists in the 16 games this season than he did in the 30 combined games he played last year.
Miller's 11.3 scoring averaging ranks fourth on the team that doesn't have anyone averaging more than 12.7 points per game.
Thursday's game against UTEP pins North Texas' head coach Grant McCasland
up against one of his former coaches at Baylor in Ronald Terry. McCasland, 1999 graduate from Baylor, played for the Bears from 1995-99. During his sophomore and junior year at Baylor, Terry was an assistant coach.
Terry is in his first year as the Miners coach but comes to El Paso with high expectations as he saw a lot of success at his previous stop as the head coach at Fresno State.
The Mean Green have won three road games in a row headed into El Paso, including winning at conference foe Rice in the C-USA opener on Dec. 29. They are the only 3-0 C-USA team.
North Texas redshirt freshman Umoja Gibson's
43 three-pointers (2.6 per game) this season are 34 off the school-record for a freshman. Chris Davis' 77 three pointers in 1999-00 is the school record. Gibson on pace to make 38 more three pointers this regular season.
MORE THAN LAST YEAR
played in 30 games last year, but it took him just 12 games this season to outscore his 2017-18 total of 108 points. Through 16 games this year, Miller already has more points (+88), more rebounds (+1), more assists (+4), more 3FGs (+10), more steals (+4), more blocks (+3). His FG% is also +17% so far this year.
GOING FOR 20
North Texas is five wins shy of having back-to-back 20+ win seasons. The last time they won 20 or more games in consecutive season was 2008-09, 2009-10. UNT didn't win its 16th game last year until March 14 in the first round of the CBI at South Dakota.
Winning close games has been a point of emphasis for second-year head coach Grant McCasland
to his team this season. Last year alone, UNT was in 14 games decided by 5 or less points. They were 7-7 in those games. So far this year they are 4-0 in games decided by five or less and have won each of their last two games by less than five.