CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – North Texas came out of the halftime
break with a purpose, but the first-half hole was too much to dig out of as Virginia
handed the Mean Green a 80-64 loss to close out the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Cavaliers (4-2) led by as much as 24 points in the
opening frame, but second-half full-court pressure from the Mean Green (3-3)
helped NT whittle into that advantage in a hurry. Tony Mitchell splashed home a
deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to nine with 13 minutes
North Texas would cut the Cavalier lead to nine points on
five other occasions, including a Jordan Williams “And-1” layup, but that’s as
close as the Mean Green would come.
For the second straight night Mitchell was a rebound shy of
a double-double. The Preseason All-American tallied 16 points and nine boards
to go with three second-half blocks.
Jordan Williams and Alzee Williams joined Mitchell in double
figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Virginia opened the game with an 11-2 run thanks to
3-pointers from Teven Jones and Joe Harris. Harris and Paul Jesperson struck
again moments later to push that lead to 17-4 with 14:35 on the first-half clock.
The hot shooting continued through the half, as the
Cavaliers rode 59.3 percent shooting to a 42-22 halftime lead. The last team to
shoot that well against the Mean Green was Kansas, which also shot 59.3 percent
in the first half of that game back on Nov. 19, 2010.
The Mean Green stemmed the tide in the second half, but too
much damage had been done.
North Texas returns home from the NIT Season Tip-Off to face
cross-town rival UT Arlington on Dec. 28 at the Super Pit. Tip off is slated
for 7 p.m. and can be seen on TXA21 in the DFW Metroplex.