Nov. 1, 2013
Box Score: NT 78 vs OCU 70
DENTON, TX - The North Texas men survived a ragged performance before finally shaking off Oklahoma City in the closing minutes, 78-70, in an exhibition game Friday night at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green struggled with its offense, shooting 38.6 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from the free-throw line.
"This is why you play exhibition games," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "We have some things we need to clean up, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
"You'll see a better effort on Monday night," Benford added, referring to Monday's upcoming final exhibition against Southeastern Oklahoma.
The familiar duo of Chris Jones and Jordan Williams led the way for the Mean Green with 16 and 12 points respectively, and Keith Coleman and newcomers T.J. Taylor and Armani Flannigan had strong efforts as well. Coleman had 11 points, Taylor 10, and Flannigan pulled down 10 rebounds.
The game was officiated in a painfully-close manner, something to which fans may have to get accustomed due to a new dictate this year mandating referees eradicate hand-checks. That change was in full evidence Friday night, and the increased vigilance deluged the game in fouls at a pace of almost one and a half calls per minute of play.
"We're going to have to adjust to these new hand-check rules," Benford said. "Any contact, and they're going to call you. We have to get better at recognizing that as a team. We have to defend without fouling. Teams across the country are going to have to adjust the way they play."
Both teams suffered through an offensive drought of dust-bowl proportions. The teams combined to hit 29.5 percent of their shots from the field and made just 18 field goals in the first half, and combined to make just 38.3 percent of their shots for the game. OKC shot more free-throw attempts than field goals, and the free-throw line accounted for 60 percent of their first-half offense.
Those free throws not only kept the Stars in the game, but kept them ahead for much of the opening half. North Texas held as much as a three-point lead but could never shake OKC, which took a 35-34 lead into halftime.
North Texas finally got clear of the Stars early in the second half, opening a 48-42 lead on a Jordan Williams dunk. OKC got within two on its first three-point field goal of the game, 58-56, before Brandon Walton, back after missing last year because of injury, hit a three to push the lead to double figures at 68-58.
• The Mean Green defense gave Oklahoma City no room to breath in the first half, holding the Stars to an anemic 23.5 percentage on 4 of 17 shooting (including 0-of-5 from three-point range) in the first 13 minutes of play, and 7 of 28 (28 percent) in the first half.
• North Texas struggled with its shot throughout the first half, hitting 44 percent of its shots in the first five minutes and cooling off as the half progressed. They were successful on just five of their first 21 shots before ending the half at 30.6 percent ,
• Redshirt-junior transfer Armani Flannigan made an impressive debut. The transfer from Central Wyoming State had eight rebounds and a shot block in the first half, finishing with a game-high 10 boards and six points.
• Keith Coleman also had a strong effort with eight rebounds and 11 points, including a thunderous two-handed dunk to finish the game's scoring.
• In his first game after with North Texas, T.J. Taylor had 10 points and a pair of steals. Taylor was forced to sit out last year after transferring from Marquette.
• Friday was also the debut of the Super Pit's new court, featuring the North Texas eagle logo at center court
North Texas hosts Southeastern Oklahoma Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Super Pit before opening the regular season next Friday at home against Northwood.