On Thursday night, the UNT Mean Green Basketball team played an exhibition game against the East Central Tigers in the Super Pit before thousands of rowdy fans. The Mean Green easily defeated the overmatched Tigers team 90-49.
The Mean Green came out looking ready to dominate from the beginning as they pushed the tempo early and often. UNT only took 8 of their 31 shots from outside of the paint in the first half. Instead of forcing deep balls, they scored their points in the transition game and by feeding the ball to the post. Roger Franklin led all scorers at the half (11 points on 4-5 shooting), but 8 different UNT players scored on the way to the 47-22 lead.
The Mean Green weren’t quite as sharp in the second half, but they still continued to push the ball down the court and play tough defense all the way to the end of the 90-49 blowout. Perhaps the most impressive player on the court was sophomore forward Jordan Williams, who scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. Williams is an extremely long and athletic player who was able to get out in transition for easy buckets and he drew a lot of fouls (he went 6-8 from the field and 7-7 from the free throw line). UNT Head Basketball Coach Tony Benford said that last year, Williams hung around the three point line too much, so he was especially pleased to see Williams take the ball inside instead of settling for 3’s (he did make his only attempt from downtown). Depth seemed to help the Mean Green: they used 10 players in the game with 9 getting 13 or more minutes. That sort of group effort is something that UNT Mean Green fans should get used to seeing.
Head coach Tony Benford explained:
“It’s really good to have depth, so if a guy doesn’t play hard he’s going to be held accountable and if he’s not playing hard he’s going to come out. When you have quality depth it allows you get guys to concentrate a little bit better”.
One of the few negatives for the UNT Mean Green was that they were beaten on the boards; they were out rebounded 43-36 by an undersized ECU team (including 22 offensive rebounds). Coach Benford said that he talked to the team about the issue after the game and he vowed that they would focus on improving their rebounding. The Mean Green could get some some help down low by having center Keith Coleman return to the squad. Coleman was held out of the game due to “tutorial issues” according to Coach Bendford. Keith has missed some classes, and Coach Benford isn’t going to put up with that on his team saying, “I promised his mom that we were going to make sure he has an opportunity to get an education.” Benford said he will be back and ready for the game against Creighton and they look forward to having him back. Tony Mitchell finished the game with 12 points 5 boards, and 5 blocks, he was very active on defense and worked hard to get the ball in the post all night.
Freshman Guard Clarke Overlander did not play due to a hamstring injury he suffered last Wednesday during practice and Justin Patton was out with a knee injury. Benford said both players will eventually contribute to this team and make it even deeper.
The UNT Mean Green open their regular season next Friday at Creighton in a battle of potential player of the year candidates in Tony Mitchell and Doug McDermott.