Final Box: NT 72 vs NW 67
DENTON, TX - Alzee Williams and Brandan Walton combined for 35 points as North Texas fought off an upset bid from Northwood, 72-67, in the Mean Green's season-opener Friday night at the Super Pit.
Williams had a game-high 22 points, 16 in the second half, including a three-point play with seven seconds to play and two game-icing free throws with two seconds remaining. Walton, in his return from a season-ending injury suffered in last year's opener, scored 13 points, including a three-point play with 3:51 to play that gave the Mean Green a 62-55 lead.
But the tenacious Knights (0-1) played aggressively all night and refused to fold, battling back every time North Texas (1-0) opened a little breathing room. Northwood drew within one at 65-64 before Colin Voss, a transfer from Northern Oklahoma who struggled in his Mean Green debut much of the night, calmly sank a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left, then Williams closed out the win.
"I thought we were out of character a little," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "We didn't do a good job keeping them out of transition, and we didn't execute on offense. We've got to get better attacking the zone. We're going to see it a lot."
Chris Jones also scored in double figures for North Texas with 13, and Jordan Williams added nine.
Both teams struggled with their shooting in the first half. North Texas hit just 35 percent (13 of 37) but enjoyed a considerable edge on the boards, out-rebounding Nortwood 31-19. The Knights, meanwhile, were good on just 31 percent of their shots from the floor (10-of-32) but made up the difference at the free-throw line and with five steals and three blocked shots to fuel a productive fast break.
The Mean Green held an early eight-point lead before Northwood took its first lead of the game, 26-25. North Texas quickly retook the lead but could not shake the Knights, taking a slim 35-33 lead into halftime.
• Walton saw his first regular-season action since suffering a season-ending injury in last year's opener. The senior guard had seven points, six boards and two steals in the first half.
• North Texas was 0-of-7 from three-point range in the second half, and 3-of-17 for the game beyond the arc.
• Voss, a 6-7 transfer from Northern Oklahoma, made his debut with the Mean Green after missing the team's two exhibitions due to a deep-thigh bruise suffered in pre-season practice.
North Texas will face the Oklahoma Sooners on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in the opening game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Norman, Oklahoma, before returning to the Super Pit to face Nicholls State next Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.