NT Hoops Answers WKU Run, But Can't Hold Off Toppers Late
14 Points From Flannigan, 13 Boards From Combs Had NT In Position To Win Late At E.A. Diddle
Jeremy Combs pulled down a career-high tying 13 rebounds in the 65-59 loss at Western Kentucky on Thursday.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - North Texas renewed its rivalry with Western Kentucky in style. Massive performances from Armani Flannigan and Jeremy Combs helped NT erase a 17-point Hilltopper lead, but the Mean Green couldn't make a late five-point lead stand up in the closing minutes of a 65-59 loss at E.A. Diddle Arena on Thursday.
NT and WKU combined to make seven Sun Belt Conference Tournament finals appearances between 2006 and 2012, but took a brief one-year break in their rivalry to find their way into Conference USA. Their first meeting as C-USA foes got off to a sleepy start, but the Hilltoppers clearly woke up first and posted a 25-5 first-half run.
It took North Texas a few minutes longer to come to its senses, but the Mean Green answered WKU with a 27-13 run that spanned four minutes into the second half.
Flannigan entered the night with a career high of 10 points, but had eclipsed that by halftime. The senior had 12 points at the break and finished with 14. Flannigan helped North Texas weather WKU's first-half storm, and the rebounding presence of Combs allowed them to gain ground. The freshman pulled down a career-high tying 13 boards and scored nine second-half points
A 12-foot Colin Voss jumper with 4-minutes to play put the Mean Green on top, 59-54, but that would be the last time NT would score. Back-to-back Hilltopper 3-pointers gave WKU back the lead, and they closed with a pair of buckets and a free throw.
The Mean Green shot 48.3 percent in the second half, and held WKU to 36.4 percent.
The 13 points from Jordan Williams are his lowest scoring output in C-USA play this year.
NT turned the ball over just 10 times for a second-straight game. That tally is only one off NT's season-low outing at Old Dominion.
North Texas trailed by as many as 17 points in the first, and the starters were 2-of-20 from the floor in the first half.
The Hilltoppers tallied 16 fast-break points in the openeing frame, but we're held without a fast-break point in the second.
Entering tonight's matchup, WKU had won the last three meetings with NT, and held a 15-5 edge in the overall series between the two former Sun Belt rivals.
North Texas makes the four-hour drive to Huntington, W.V. to take on the Thundering Herd of Marshall on Saturday at 6 p.m. Central