Late Run Propels Men's Basketball To 92-78 Victory
Aniefiok Scores 21 Points In Win Against Nicholls State
DENTON, Texas - A 22-8 run in the final five minutes of the game allowed the North Texas men's basketball team to slip away with a 92-78 victory against Nicholls State on Thursday night at the Super Pit.
North Texas was hampered in the first half by turnovers and poor shooting. The Mean Green ended the game on a shooting spree, scoring 22 points in the final five minutes. It took the Mean Green 12 minutes to make two field goals to open the game but the squad ended up recording a season-high 92 total points.
"We have to get stops, and in the first half we didn't make stops. They hit some good shots" said North Texas head coach Tony Benford. "We made adjustments in the second period, and I thought Maurice played really well."
After 25 fouls slowed down the game in the first half, both teams were eager to run the floor in the second period. Neither team led by more than five points in the latter period until the Mean Green scored eight unanswered points to take a 78-70 lead at 3:19.
After four points by the Colonels, North Texas went on a second run, scoring 10 unanswered points. The Mean Green sealed the win with free throws.
Four players (Maurice Aniefiok, Vertrail Vaughns, Jordan Williams and Brandan Walton) scored all the points for the Mean Green in its big 22-8 run. Aniefiok scored five points in the run and finished with a team-high 21 points. Vertrail Vaughns recorded 17 points in the game, while Williams had 14. Walton scored six of his eight points in the run.
Despite making just seven field goals in the first half, North Texas finished by shooting a season-high 48.9 percent. The Mean Green also recorded season highs with 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and 84.8 shooting from the charity strip.
The 39 points from the free-throw line kept the Mean Green in the game. Nineteen of NT's 38 points in the first half were made from the free-throw line. The 39 free throws is the fourth most in a single game in Mean Green school history.
North Texas struggled from the field in the opening 12 minutes, hitting only two of its first eight shots. Sixteen of its 20 points were scored from the free-throw line. Nicholls State capitalized on its 45 percent shooting to take a 26-20 lead.
North Texas went 10 minutes without hitting a field goal, depending on the charity stripe to stay in the game. Aniefiok hit a 3-pointer at 5:06 to give the Mean Green its first three of the game and its first field goal since the 16-minute mark.
A layup by Vaughns on the Mean Green's next possession cut the Colonels lead to five points, 30-25. A second 3-pointer for North Texas tied the game at 30-30 with four minutes left to play.
The momentum switched in the final six minutes with North Texas hitting four 3-pointers, including three by Aniefiok. North Texas scored 18 of the final 26 points to enter half ahead, 38-36.
Next up for North Texas
North Texas takes to the road to compete in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Portland, Ore. The Mean Green faces Columbia on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 4 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
North Texas is now 2-1 this season. Only seven Mean Green squads in the last 20 seasons have started the year with a 2-1 mark.
North Texas has now won the last four meetings against Nicholls State, but the Colonels lead the series, 9-8.
Maurice Aniefiok went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 4-for-4 from the field in the first half. He came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points.
Vertrail Vaughns started his second game of the year and scored a season-high 17 points.
North Texas went 20-for-25 from the free-throw line in the first half, making more free throws in the first half than in the entire game against Northwood and Oklahoma.
The Mean Green recorded season highs in made free throws (39) and free-throw percentage (84.8).
North Texas continued to be successful on the glass; outrebounding the Colonels, 44-26.
North Texas trailed for most of the first half, taking its first lead, 33-32, at the 2:22 mark.
T.J. Taylor saw his first action in a Mean Green uniform in the second half of the game against Nicholls State. He hit a layup within a minute of checking into the game.