DENTON, Texas - The Tony Benford era in North Texas men's basketball began Thursday night with a resounding 90-49 win in an exhibition game against East Central University at the Super Pit.
North Texas led throughout, jumping to an immediate lead on the first shot of the game, a basket by Tony Mitchell, and rolling to a double-digit advantage early in the first half. The Mean Green shot 52.5 percent from the field while holding ECU to just 30.2 percent field-goal shooting.
"It was great to play against somebody," Benford said. "I thought defensively we were pretty good. Offensively we were disciplined running our half-court offense. We've got to rebound better if we're going to be successful, but overall it was a good night."
Benford, in his first collegiate head-coaching job after an impressive 20-year-career as an assistant, made the most of his deep and talented roster, substituting liberally and using the pre-season tuneup to mix and match lineups. The Mean Green had five players in double figures, led by sophomore Jordan Williams with a double-double, a game-high 20 points and game-high 10 rebounds. Roger Franklin, Mitchell, Chris Jones, and Alzee Williams also finished in double-figure scoring.
East Central (Oklahoma), fielding a team with 15 newcomers on their 16-man roster, did not shy away from North Texas and played a physical game. The Tigers, although trailing from the opening tip, stayed within shouting distance through the first 10 minutes and out-rebounded North Texas in the first half.
But the Tigers could never mount a challenge and struggled to score against the aggressive North Texas defense. The Mean Green blocked five shots in the first half, four by Mitchell, forced a dozen turnovers, and held ECU to just 25.7 percent shooting in the opening half.
North Texas, meanwhile, had just two turnovers through the first 20 minutes and got scoring from eight players, led by Franklin with 11 points in the first half. The Mean Green extended their lead to 15 points, 24-9, on a basket by the Jordan Williams with 8:19 to play in the first half, and Franklin's put-back at 4:05 pushed the advantage to 22 points at 39-17. The Mean Green enjoyed a 47-22 lead at halftime.
The lead rolled over 30 points early in the second half.
North Texas will open the regular season on November 9 when it travels to Omaha, Nebraska, to play the Creighton Bluejays, who enter the season ranked No. 15 in the nation. The Mean Green will open their home schedule on November 16 against Cameron at the Super Pit.