Offense Sputters Late As Mean Green Lose To UTSA, 71-61
Muhammed Ahmed Scores 14 Points In Second Half
Muhammed Ahmed had 14 points in the second half for North Texas (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - In a game that was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than six until the final 2:31, North Texas saw its offense dry up over the final six minutes while UTSA found offense at the free-throw line and from the three-point arc for a 71-61 win over the Mean Green Sunday at the Super Pit.
It's the fourth loss in a row for North Texas and the seventh in the last nine games, and sends the Mean Green to an 0-2 start in Conference USA play.
"They shoot it really well," Mean Green coach Tony Benford said. "They hit some timely threes and they made plays when they had to, and we had some untimely turnovers in the second half."
North Texas was without starters T.J. Taylor and Maurice Aniefiok, but got a strong effort off the bench from Muhammed Ahmed, who had 14 points in the second half, and Jordan Williams with 17 points for the game. But it wasn't enough to overcome 37-percent shooting in the final 20 minutes, while UTSA poured in nine three-pointers for the game and hit 16 of 21 free-throw attempts in the second half.
For the second game in a row, North Texas got off to a sharp-shooting start, hitting eight of its first 11 shots and finishing the half at 56 percent. All but three of the Mean Green's first-half points came from Williams with 11, DeAndre Harris, following his 20-point, 60-percent shooting night two days ago with 10 points, and Colin Voss with eight. NT had difficulty scoring inside against UTSA's 6-10 and seven-foot bigs , but Roadrunners could not exploit their size advantage offensively, getting just two points from its twin towers in the half, or on the boards, where UTSA had only a 15-14 edge.
And for the second game in a row, the first half ended with turnovers fueling a run - but this time it was the Mean Green forcing the mistakes. North Texas caused eight UTSA turnovers in the final eight minutes of the half, replacing a five-point Roadrunner lead with a three-point Mean Green lead at halftime, 32-29.
But North Texas carried no momentum to the second half. The game was even until the nine-minute mark, when UTSA broke a 49-49 tie and took the lead for good. That advantage hovered at three to four points until the Mean Green attack sputtered, generating just seven points in the final six minutes.
Senior Jordan Williams moved into 12th place among North Texas career-scoring leaders, tying Calvin Watson (2003-07). Williams has 1,253 career points. Next up on the list at 11th place is Melvin Davis (1975-78) from the Bill Blakeley era with 1,306 points.
For the second-straight game, DeAndre Harris reached double figures in the first 15 minutes of play.
Block of the night: Colin Voss rejected an attempted alley-oop, stuffing the ball in the shooter's hands. Next time down court, it was North Texas properly executing the alley-oop on a thunderous two-handed slam by Jordan Williams.
Junior forward Muhammed Ahmed provided a spark in the paint with his entry in the second half, scoring 14 points and pulling down a pair of rebounds on a day when the Mean Green found few openings inside.
Ahmed was also exceptional from the free-throw line. Coming into the game hitting just 50 percent from the line this season, Ahmed hit five of six free throws against UTSA.az
North Texas has dropped its first two league games for the second year in a row.
The Mean Green have three-straight road cames against Conference USA foes, beginning on Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. against Rice.