Seniors, Newcomers Combine To Send NT Men To OT Win
Seniors Force Overtime, Freshmen Shine In Extra Period For 106-100 Win
Jordan Williams had a game-high 27 points in Monday's exhibition win (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - Monday night's exhibition game at the Super Pit clearly demonstrated both the promise and the problems of the 2014-15 North Texas men's basketball team.
The evening debuted a Mean Green roster with nine newcomers anchored by five upperclassmen, who showed good ball movement in both the half-court and fast-break attacks and got scoring from veterans and freshmen, including a double-double by impressive true freshman Jeremy Combs. But the Mean Green's lack of size and interior defense were also exposed by a very quick, aggressive, veteran Oklahoma City squad that came into the game averaging 91.5 points per game.
In the end, it was Mean Green seniors Jordan Williams and Armani Flannigan that sparked an 11-3 regulation-ending run to force overtime, and newcomers Combs and Greg White-Pittman who powered North Texas in the extra period to a 106-100 victory.
Williams finished with a game-high 27 points, while Flannigan contributed 12 rebounds, three blocks, and eight points, including a put-back with 4.2 seconds to play to tie the game at 90-90.
Freshman guard White-Pittman was the catalyst in overtime, scoring five of his 15 points in OT to go along with a pair of key assists to Combs in the extra period. He had seven assists for the night.
Combs, the state's top scorer in Class 4A as a senior last year at Dallas Carter, flashed impressive moves in the paint, scored eight points in his first seven minutes of play, had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, and finished with 23 points on nine of 13 shooting and 11 rebounds. He also drew two charges in overtime to kill the Stars' frantic comeback attempts.
"Last year's team would have lost this game," he added, "but this team has a lot of resilience."
After North Texas built a 27-16 lead behind a 7-0 run, the Stars rallied to go up 39-38, fueled by 17-of-19 free-throw shooting, and kept pace the rest to send the game to halftime even at 47-47.
Oklahoma City, fueled by continued torrid free-throw shooting and efficiency in converting turnovers to points, took the lead early in the second half and held it most of the rest of the way. North Texas rallied from a nine-point deficit to tie the game at 73-73, but the Stars surged to a seven point lead at 87-79 before the Mean Green's final comeback.
Monday's game was 30 minutes late in starting because Oklahoma City was a late arrival.
Junior-college transfer and Todd Eaglin started at point guard Monday. All the other starters - Jordan Williams, Colin Voss, Maurice Aniefiok and Armani Flannigan - had at least two starts in 2013-14.
Maurice Aniefiok scored in double figures for North Texas, with 12 points. He also had six rebounds.
North Texas is now 20-0 in exhibition play since the turn of the century.
Oklahoma City came into Monday's game averaging 91.5 points per game in their first two contests.
In a 20-second span of the first half, North Texas forced three turnovers
Greg White-Pittman, true freshman from New Orleans, had seven points in an eight-minute first-half debut.
In a fast-paced opening half, the teams combined to take 69 field goal attempts and hit 43.5 percent of them.
Junior-college transfer Muhammed Ahmed had a strong move early in the second half. He got his defender to bite on a head fake, then swept past him on a drive to the bucket ending in a two-handed dunk.
The last time North Texas scored 100 points was in 2010 against Houston Baptist, when the Mean Green scored 107.
North Texas opens the regular season this Friday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m. against Arkansas-Monticello at the Super Pit.