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Chalk talk: UNT at Rice

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

North Texas at Rice

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tudor Fieldhouse, Houston

Records: UNT 9-8, 2-2 C-USA; Rice 4-13, 1-3 C-USA


Radio: KNTU-FM 88.1, KHYI-FM 95.3

Last game: Old Dominion 63, UNT 60; Rice 73, Charlotte 64

UNT projected starting lineup:

PG: Ryan Woolridge (6-3, Soph.) -- Woolridge scored 13 points while playing all 40 minutes of UNT's loss to Old Dominion. The sophomore has played every minute of the Mean Green's six games. Woolridge is averaging 12.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. 

G: A.J. Lawson (6-5, Soph.) -- Lawson is still dealing with a wrist injury that has hampered him the last few weeks and has scored 10 points in UNT's last two games combined. He is averaging 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

G: Roosevelt Smart (6-3, Soph.) -- Smart has been a tick off in each of UNT's last two games, when he has gone a combined 7-for-25 from the field. The sophomore has not hit a shot from inside the three-point line in that span. He is still averaging a team-high 18 points per game. 

F: Zachary Simmons (6-9, Fr.) -- Simmons has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the the second time in his freshman season at UNT. He scored 10 points against both Charlotte and Old Dominion and is averaging 5.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. 

F: Shane Temara (6-9, Sr.) -- Temara endured a rare off night in UNT's loss to Old Dominion. He scored two points, grabbed three rebounds and saw his string of five straight games with at least one 3-pointer snapped. The senior is averaging 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Scouting Rice: The Owls have struggled this season after a mass program exodus following a 23-win season last year. Mike Rhoades left to become the head coach at VCU. Marcus Evans, Egor Koulechov, Marquez Letcher-Ellis and Marcus Jackson were among a host of key players who transferred.

Rice has struggled to recover and is leaning on junior guard Connor Cashaw, who is averaging 15.9 points per game. The Owls put up a bunch of 3s and are averaging 8.1 makes per game.

What you need to know: UNT coach Grant McCasland and his players felt like they let a couple of good opportunities for wins get away last week when they fell to Charlotte (70-68) and Old Dominion (63-60).

Fortunately for the Mean Green, they have been a ton better on the road this season than they have been the last two years. The story is one we delve into in a story that will appear in tomorrow's paper:

UNT will play its next three games on the road against Rice, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss. Those three teams are a combined 4-10 in league play.

The Mean Green really need to play well over the next couple of weeks before hitting a tough stretch in February, when UNT will face UAB, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Marshall. Those teams are 14-2 combined in C-USA play. 

FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas  guard A.J. Lawson (1) and forward Shane Temara grab a rebound during a loss to Old Dominion last week at the Super Pit. (Jeff Woo/DRC)