DENTON, Texas - Louisiana-Monroe's evening at the Super Pit was epitomized by the first two minutes of the game: the Warhawks turned the ball over on their first two possessions, had their first shot blocked by Tony Mitchell then called time out.
It was pretty much all downhill from there.
The North Texas men took control of Thursday night's next-to-last home game from the opening tip and cruised to an 86-51 win. The Mean Green's dominance was such that there were no lead changes or ties, and their lead topped double digits six minutes into the game and ballooned to 20 midway through the first half, giving North Texas coach Johnny Jones a chance to give his bench significant playing time.
"I thought our guys came out and played very effectively," Jones said. "Overall we keyed in on the things we needed to."
North Texas moved to 8-5 in league play (15-11 overall) to position itself for the final push for one of the top five seeds in the Sun Belt Conference, a prize that earns a bye in the opening round of the upcoming Sun Belt tournament. The Mean Green's final three games - starting with the last home game of the season Saturday afternoon against Louisiana-Lafayette - are against three of the six teams in contention for those byes.
But first came the meeting with ULM (1-12, 2-24), and the Mean Green methodically eliminated any hope the Warhawks had of challenging for an upset.
North Texas jumped out to a 7-0 lead, sparked by a three and a dunk by Mitchell, who finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Mitchell also had six blocks to run his season total to 53.
The Mean Green lead grew to 10 points at 14-4 and never slipped below double-digits the rest of the way. North Texas spread the offense throughout the lineup. Alzee Williams had 12, Tyler Hall had 11, Roger Franklin added 10, and all 11 North Texas players scored and had at least one rebound.
North Texas completes its home schedule Saturday against Lafayette. Game time is 3:30 p.m. at the Super Pit.