CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – North Texas head coach Tony Benford
preaches that defense leads to offense, and on Monday afternoon his Mean Green
proved him right in an 80-66 win over IUPUI in NIT Season Tip-Off consolation action.
North Texas (3-2) held the Jaguars (2-3) to 37.5 percent shooting,
and forced the transition tempo to the tune of 20 fast-break points – the most
by NT since it had 23 against Houston Baptist in 2008. The result was a 49.3
Mean Green shooting percentage and 21 points and four blocks for Preseason
All-American Tony Mitchell.
“I thought that we came out focused, and executed really
well against a well-coached basketball team,” Benford said. “Chris Jones did
such a great job of running the offense, and Roger Franklin is flat getting it
done for us. I’m really proud of the way we played today.”
The Jones-to-Franklin connection was going all afternoon.
Jones racked up a season-high eight assists, and Franklin tallied his fifth
career double-double with 13 points and a 10 boards.
NT, which played its first ever game in the Commonwealth of
Virginia against the Jaguars, will close out this road swing and the NIT Season
Tip-Off on Tuesday against Virginia at 7 p.m.
After starting the game in a 4-0 hole, North Texas used its
devastating speed to get back into things. Mitchell picked off a pass at
mid-court and wowed the crowd with a windmill dunk, which spurred an 11-0 burst
from the Mean Green.
Jordan Williams kept the momentum going with a pair of
3-pointers on back-to-back possessions that pushed the Mean Green lead to 35-19
with five minutes remaining in the half. Williams finished with 13 points on
3-of-3 shooting from 3-point.
Mitchell piled up three first half blocks to lead North
Texas into the halftime break with a 41-31 lead. NT kept the pressure going in
the second half and led by as many as 21 points.