THE FLATS - Four of the first five home games (Northwestern excluded) on Georgia Tech’s schedule are part of the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase. North Texas is the third game of that event, Nov. 24 at McCamish Pavilion. This is the fifth in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets' non-conference opponents.
Location: Denton, Texas
Conference: Conference USA
Home arena: The Super Pit (10,500)
2016-17 Record: 8-22 overall, 2-16 in C-USA (14th), 338th in NCAA RPI
NCAA Postseason Appearances: Three (last 2010)
All-time series record: 1-0, Georgia Tech (1997-98)
Head coach: Grant McCasland (entering first season)
Starters returning/lost: 2/3
Top scorer returning: A.J. Lawson (11.4)
Top rebounder returning: Shane Temara (4.6)
Quick preview for 2017-18
Looking to regain the program’s stride of old, first-year head coach Grant McCasland will have to capitalize on the young, raw talent currently on his roster in order to compete with the tough Conference USA. Helping lead that charge will be A.J. Lawson, who is coming of his best year collegiately and looking to up his scoring average. In the paint, the Mean Green will have to replace their leading rebounder in Jeremy Combs. Shane Temara wasn’t far behind him in the average, but could be exactly the board crasher they need with another year of experience under his belt.
Quick recap of 2016-17
An 11-game losing streak during the season derailed a just-under .500 season and what proved to be a promising season for newcomers to the program. A.J. Lawson exploded to average 11.4 points per game – leading all scorers – while Jeremy Combs led all board crashers with 6.4 rebounds per game. Scoring-wise, J-Mychal Reese was second on the team in scoring (10.9 points) while Combs was third and the final double-digit performer for North Texas with 10.2 points per game. Only four games off .500 at home, where the Mean Green really struggled was on the road, winning just one of their 12 contests away from the Super Pit.
Battling in the super-competitive Conference USA, North Texas was able to steal just two league games on the year, downing Florida Atlantic, 70-64, and UT-San Antonio, 83-73. During conference action, Reese stepped up his efforts offensively to increase his average to 13.0 points per game, while Lawson pumped up his average to 12.4. Combs and Temara once again controlled the boards.
Greatest Program Accomplishment
Gearing up for a showdown against Louisville in 1970, North Texas had caught rumors that the NIT would select the winner of its game for the “Big Time” Madison Square Garden tournament and knew what was at stake. With the added fuel of having had their home arena called the “Worst Crowd in the Nation,” the Mean Green were able to dismantle the Cardinals in front of a sold-out crowd, 98-80. While North Texas wasn’t selected by the NIT (Louisville was), it created the infamous “Pit” – a crowd that housed students yelling “Welcome to the Pit!” over and over again and who throw stuff during timeouts to create one of the era’s most feared collegiate atmospheres.
Greatest player in program history
Playing from 1979-83, Kenneth Lyons defined what it was to the Mean Green. Setting the career records in program history for scoring (2,291), field goals (905) and second in rebounding (1,020), Lyons averaged 20.6 per game over four years. Lyons is also the only player in North Texas history to score more than 699 points in a single season, recording 728 in the 1982-83 season (24.3 ppg). During that season, Lyons dropped a program-record 47 points on LA Tech while recording more than 30 points five times overall.
The 6-foot-7 big man was selected in the second round of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, but never playing in a game professionally. North Texas cemented his place in its basketball history when it voted him into the hall of fame.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Opened to the public in 2007, the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center houses 14 telescopes in its observatories and three telescope huts. Accommodating more than 3,000 students and 38,000 visitors annually, the center was built to educate both North Texas students studying astronomy and the public who have interest in the stars.
With one of the largest enrollments for introductory astronomy classes in the nation, is located in a secluded area not too far a drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.