DENTON, Texas - In an intense atmosphere befitting a meeting of two of the Sun Belt's top teams, Denver and North Texas exchanged momentum swings for every last second of forty minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime.
The last fraction of a second belonged to the Mean Green.
Alzee Williams's tip in at the buzzer - a shot that had to be reviewed by the referees before it was counted - sent North Texas to a 75-74 win over Denver Saturday night at the Super Pit.
"What a win," North Texas coach Johnny Jones said. "The guys battled every second, every play. It came down to playing every second."
The lead exchanged hands four times in the final minute of overtime before Williams worked his way to the baseline to tip in a shot from Roger Franklin.
The win pushes North Texas (12-8, 5-2) into a tie for the Sun Belt West Division lead with Denver (15-5, 5-2) and Arkansas-Little Rock.
North Texas led through most of overtime before Denver clawed its way to a 72-71 lead with 41 seconds left. A dunk by Tony Mitchell - giving him a game-high 30 points - put North Texas back on top with 31 seconds left, but Denver got retook the advantage with 15 seconds to play.
The Mean Green choose to not use their last timeout, and got the ball to Franklin, who had 18 points, for a jump shot from the baseline. The shot was missed, but Williams was in position for the put-back.
"What a play by Al," Jones said. "It was a great night for the guys."
Mitchell had another outstanding night, adding 17 rebounds and two shot blocks to his 30-point effort.
"Tony delivered in a big way," Jones said. "He stepped it up, not only on the offensive end but on defense. He was key in taking away a lot of their backdoor plays."
Both teams were clearly aware of what was at stake Saturday in a match-up of Sun Belt Conference leaders, and both came out aggressive from the opening tip.
North Texas got a three from Tyler Hall, in his first start of the season, to open the game and Tony Mitchell capped the opening run with a layup for a 12-5 lead with four minutes gone in the game.
Denver responded immediately, mostly from the three-point line. The Pioneers, the top three-point shooting team in the nation, took every open look they could get, hitting six of their first eight attempts to take a 24-18 lead.
The Mean Green rallied back behind Mitchell, who had 17 points by halftime, and tied the game on Hall's second three pointer, 26-26, but Denver continued its long-distance assault. Fifteen of the Pioneers' 23 first-half shots were three-point attempts, and they made good on 60 percent of those to take a 39-35 lead at halftime.
But North Texas did a much better job defending the three in the second half, allowing only two attempts in the first 11 minutes, both missed. Denver hit just two of 10 three pointers in the second half.
The Mean Green appeared to be in control late in the second half, up 59-52, but Denver got their only two threes of the second half to trigger a rally to tie the game 66-66 and send it into overtime.