Big Second Half Carries Iona Past North Texas Men, 78-58
Iona's A.J. English Scores 37 Points As Mean Green Fades In Second Half
North Texas' Greg White-Pittman guards Iona's A.J. English Sunday afternoon (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - For a half, North Texas shackled Iona's three-point fueled offense and its sensational guard, A.J. English, and enjoyed a pair of seven-point leads over the No. 32 team in the national Ratings Percentage Index rankings. But in the first six minutes of the second half, English and the Gaels broke free and exploded on a 19-4 run en route to a 78-58 win Sunday afternoon at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green (3-1) couldn't keep up with the Gaels (3-1) in the second half and was beset by 16 turnovers. After falling behind by 15 early in the half, North Texas could never get the deficit under double figures.
"That's a really good team," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "That's a tournament team, and you've got to play well against a team like that.
"We've got to execute better offensively, and defensively you can't let one guy get 37 points. We had a game plan to slow him down and we were contesting shots, but he got away from us. He's a savvy player, a really good player."
The Gaels entered the game hitting 41.3 percent of a prolific 25.0 three-point attempts per game, but in the first half North Texas succeeded in both pushing Iona further out for many of its attempts and in pushing the Gaels deeper into the shot clock, limiting them to connect on just 20 percent of threes and 33 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Mean Green, meanwhile, shot a torrid 52 percent from the floor in the opening half, but suffered from eight turnovers and 10 Iona offensive rebounds to keep the game - which saw five lead changes and six ties - tight. North Texas, behind nine points from Jordan Williams, seven from T.J. Taylor, and five from Armani Flannigan, twice opened seven-point leads, only to see the Gaels reel them in and send the game to intermission tied, 32-32.
But English took over in the second half, scoring 26 of his game-high 37 points, as Iona hit 60 percent of its three-point shots in the half. The Iona defense, meanwhile, held Williams to just two points in the second half.
• This was the first meeting between North Texas and Iona.
• Senior forward Jordan Williams's climb up the North Texas career-scoring list continued Sunday. Williams now has 1,116 points and is three points from Jim Mudd (1,119) for 15th place.
• North Texas out-rebounded Iona Sunday, 35-32, and has our-boarded every opponent this season.
• Iona's A.J. English scored the most points against North Texas since Demetrius Evans of University of Southwest put up 40 in 2009.
• North Texas is now 3-1 for the first time since 2010-11 and for the sixth time since 2006-07.
In their last home game before a three-game road trip, North Texas hosts Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday, Nov. 26, in a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Super Pit.