Final: NT 63 Rice 62 OT
North Texas Season Stats
EL PASO, Texas – Chris Jones had just four points against Rice on Tuesday. His first two free throws sent the game into overtime and the second pair from the stripe proved the game winner with 11.7 seconds remaining in a 63-62 overtime thriller to open the C-USA Tournament.
Playing catchup for much of the afternoon, the Mean Green (16-15) erased a 13-point first-half deficit only to trail the Owls (7-23) by eight points with 2:36 left in regulation. Rice even led by four in overtime, but gritty play from the Mean Green stole the win.
“I told these guys at halftime that they had better get it in gear or we were headed home,” said North Texas head coach Tony Benford. “I’m so proud of the way these guys fought back, got the stops we needed and made sure we would be sticking around another day.”
Brandan Walton and Colin Voss were the catalysts behind the Mean Green comeback. Walton hit four 3-pointers on the afternoon for a game-high tying 17 points, while Voss tallied 16 points and nine boards.
Jordan Williams scored 11 points and a team-season high 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year.
Rice was nearly unstoppable from 3-point against NT. The Owls were 10-of-23 from deep, including five makes from one of C-USA’s top 3-point shooters in Austin Ramljak.
Rice kept the Mean Green off balance for much of the first half. NT was held to just one field goal for an eight minute stretch that allowed the Owls sharpshooters to warm up. Rice was 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from deep in the first half, and used the NT cold stretch to open up a 27-14 lead with 3:27 on the first half clock.
Next up for North Texas
• North Texas advances to the second round of the C-USA Tournament, and will face No. 7 seed Tulane on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Central.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
• While Tuesday was NT's first appearance in the Conference USA Tournament, the Mean Green is now 16-5 in conference tourneys over the last eight seasons.
• Jordan Williams tallied 14 rebounds on the day, which are the most by a North Texas player this year, as well as a career-high performance.
• The win gives NT 16 victories on the year, which makes this year's squad one of just 18 teams in program history to reach that plateau. The victory also assures NT at least a .500 season - just the 30th .500 season since WWII.
• The Mean Green has now won four straight games away from the Super Pit for the first time since the 2009-10 team did just that en route to the Sun Belt Tournament title.
• Chris Jones tallied one assist, which gives him 121 on the year. That total moves him into sole possession of ninth place in NT single-season history.
• North Texas entered the matchup against the Owls with a 9-4 edge in the overall series, including a 3-0 lead on neutral courts.