Middle Tennessee Holds Off Late Mean Green Rally
Blue Raiders Defeat Men's Basketball, 70-63
Jan. 25, 2014
DENTON, Texas -- Middle Tennessee used a 21-3 run and held off a late Mean Green rally to overtake the North Texas men's basketball team and propel the visitors to a 70-63 victory on Saturday night at the Super Pit.
North Texas falls to 11-9 overall and 2-4 in Conference USA league play, while Middle Tennessee improves to 13-7 and 3-2 in the conference.
"We have to get back to doing the little things," said North Texas head coach Tony Benford. "We have to take care of the basketball and make sure we continue to execute off the half court. We have to get stops when teams go on runs. I always tell the guys that college basketball is a game of runs. They went on a run, we on a run, but they then closed it out."
Middle Tennessee led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but North Texas used a late run to come within four points of the lead in the final minutes of the game. The Blue Raiders hit seven free throws in the final minute to hold onto the conference win.
The four-point halftime lead by the Mean Green did not last long. Middle Tennessee roared out of the gates, scoring seven of the first nine points of the second period, to take its first lead of the game since the opening basket, 35-34. The one-point lead turned into seven, 42-35, with a 21-3 Blue Raiders run that started at the end of the first half.
Behind 60 shooting in the second half, Middle Tennessee led by as many as 13 points, 61-48, at 5:35. Kerry Hammonds led the Blue Raiders with 18 points, including 10 in the second period.
A Vertrail Vaughns steal and layup capped an 11-2 run by the Mean Green to bring the home team back within four points of the lead, 63-59, at 1:31.
North Texas cut the lead to four points twice in the final two minutes but was unable to get any closer. The Mean Green was held to 35 percent shooting in the second stanza after posting a 52.2 field-goal percentage in the opening period.
We just have to finish games," said Benford. "We just need to learn how to close well."
The Mean Green jumped out to a 9-2 lead and led by as many as 13 points in the opening stanza. MT ended the half on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to four points.
Next up for North Texas
North Texas takes to the road for a Saturday afternoon game at Tulsa on Feb. 1. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
With the win, Middle Tennessee extends its series lead to 12-6 and is now 1-0 in Conference USA play against the Mean Green. The Blue Raiders have won the last six games against North Texas.
This is the first game this season that North Texas has lost despite leading at the half. The Mean Green is now 10-1 when leading at the half.
Maurice Aniefiok has hit two 3-pointers in each of the last three games. He finished the game with 10 points, his seventh game in double-figures this season.
Jordan Williams scored 16 points in the game, moving him into 30th place all-time in career points at North Texas with 905 points.
Middle Tennessee held the edge in rebounds, 35-26, and blocks, 6-2
The North Texas bench was outscored for the first time in five games, 36-32