Well folks, the Mean Green season is over… The North Texas men’s basketball lost in their first round match-up against Louisiana-Lafayette 74-55 to end their season on Friday night. The team traveled to Hot Springs Arkansas looking to continue the momentum that they had started to gain by winning four out of their last six regular season games and getting point guard Chris Jones back but that just wasn’t in the cards. The Ragin’ Cajuns had beaten North Texas 5 out of the last 6 meetings including two during this regular season, and Friday night showed that they still had their number.
The problem with UNT all season has been offense and it continued to be an issue in the tourney, Jordan Williams was the only real source of offense and ULL knew it. Even with that he was able to rack up 19 points and shot the ball pretty well but you could tell they were trying to force other players to make plays and they just didn’t do that. Tony Mitchell finished with a double-double scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds but he only took 7 shots and that’s just not enough. Roger Franklin had 13 points in his final game for the Mean Green and that was about all the scoring. Chris Jones was expected to be a big impact and he got some open shots but went just 1-9 from the field and had as many turnovers as points with 4. Perhaps the worst part of the Mean Green offensive woes was their poor free-throw shooting, they shot 50% from the line hitting just 12 of 24 attempts, if they hit more of those it’s a different game in the second half considering they were in the bonus and got the line 13 more times that ULL. Their defense was pretty solid all night except for the occasional offensive rebound and they slowed down freshman of the Year Shawn Long for most of the first half.
Overall, as optimistic as fans could have been about the possibility of the Mean Green making a deep tourney run you cant be surprised that they bowed out in the first round. The loss caps off a 12-20 season for a team that was picked to win the west and contend for a Sun Belt title. While Tony Mitchell wouldn’t say anything about his NBA future except that he will sit down with his family and coach Benford and talk about it, you have to think he is gone considering he will still be a 1st round pick. The Mean Green also lose who I think is the heart and soul of the team in Roger Franklin, he put up solid numbers all year long and was the teams most consistent player. You have to feel bad for a guy like him who really expected his last season of college basketball to go better than this especially with all the hype. Niko Stojiljkovic, Justin Patton, and Jacob Holmen are all graduating as well so overall this team is losing a lot of experience and talent. If coach Benford thought his first season was hard I can’t imagine him having an easier one next year with a talented but much different team.
On a side note while the team did look sharp apparently they are 0-6 in their black alternate uniforms that they wore, it may be time to retire those.