MANHATTAN, Kan. – Tony Mitchell and Alzee Williams went
shot-for-shot in the second half to help North Texas pull away from Lamar and
pick up the first career victory for Tony Benford - a 74-59 win in the NIT Season
A Preseason All-American, Mitchell racked up 18 points and 10
rebounds for his 12th career double-double, and Williams hit a trio
of jumpers in each half for 17 points. Still, the night belonged to Benford,
who earned the victory after a 20-plus year coaching career that made him one
of the most respected assistant coaches in the country.
After a couple of off shooting nights in the rear view
mirror, North Texas (1-2) found its stroke against the Cardinals (0-2). NT shot
45.3 percent on the night, including a 48.4 clip in outscoring the Cardinals
38-29 in the second half. The Mean Green led by as much as 22 against Lamar.
North Texas got the start it was looking for after a
thunderous dunk from Keith Coleman put NT on top 11-6 and drew a timeout from
Lamar head coach, Pat Knight. The Cardinals responded with 48.1 percent
shooting to draw back into the game, but the Mean Green defense forced 12 Lamar
Clarke Overlander splashed home his first career 3-pointer with
just under two minutes left in the first half to give NT its biggest lead of
the night at 34-28. Lamar’s Donnell Minton answered with a bucket just before
the break to cut NT’s lead to 36-30 at the half.
NT’s explosiveness caught up with the Cardinals early in the
second frame, as Alzee Williams hooked up with Jordan Williams for an alley-oop
that opened up the Mean Green lead.
Chris Jones joined Alzee Williams and Mitchell in double
figures with 15 points and seven assists. Jacob Holmen scored eight in the
second half to reach 10 for the game.
North Texas returns to the Super Pit to face Cameron in the
home opener on Friday. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. and can be heard on the
Mean Green Radio Network.