North Texas Escapes Upset Bid, Opens With 72-67 Win
Alzee Williams Scores 22 To Lead Mean Green Past Northwood
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."
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.