Mean Green Drop Third Straight In Another Turnover-Filled Defeat
Turnovers Continue To Plague North Texas In 86-74 Loss To Troy
J-Mychal Reese tries to drive past a defender during the Mean Green Challenge (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - Despite having advantages in rebounding, field-goal percentage and free throws made and attempted most of the game, North Texas dropped an 86-74 decision to the Troy Trojans to close out the Mean Green Challenge.
The difference Wednesday evening at the Super Pit was North Texas' 18 turnovers and Troy's massive 28-9 advantage in points off turnovers. The Trojans also had big edges in points in the paint (42-30) and off fastbreaks (22-12), while committing just six turnovers of their own.
North Texas, 2-3 on the year, was swept in three games in the Mean Green Challenge this week, and was the only squad in the four-team round-robin event to go winless.
"We're just very disappointed in the results this week," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "It was the same thing in all three games, we get a lead and it evaporates in the second half. We just didn't do a good job."
The Mean Green continue to be beset by turnovers this year. NT saw its per-game turnover average climb to 16.4, and had five in the opening minutes to help Troy (3-3) erase a 5-0 NT lead and replace it with a 15-7 Trojan advantage.
But North Texas, after hitting just two of its first eight shots, heated up and went on a 11-0 run - in which five different players scored - midway through the first half for an 18-15 lead. The teams exchanged the lead six times in the half, but the Mean Green out-rebounded Troy, 26-19, in the first half to take a 33-31 lead at halftime. Freshman guard Allante Holston had nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the first half, and Deckie Johnson scored eight points and six rebounds, four coming on the offensive end.
In the second half, however, Troy parlayed three three-point field goals, three North Texas turnovers, and a three-point play in a five-minute span into an eight-point lead, 51-43. Troy extended the lead to double figures and with 10 minutes to play, and the Trojans controlled the game the rest of the way.
North Texas was led in scoring by Houston with 17. Troy's Wesley Person had a game-high 24 points, 21 of them coming in the second half.
"He got away from us," Benford said of Person. "You let a great shooter get open looks it's tough."
North Texas now prepares for its first road trip with a three-game losing streak.
"We've got a tough road trip coming up," Benford said. "We'll see what we're made of."
• This is the second time in the Tony Benford era that North Texas has started the season 2-3.
• North Texas has gone with the same starting lineup in all five games this season, but continues to make use of its depth, using 11 players Wednesday evening.
• The Mean Green had won four straight against Troy before Wednesday's loss.
• NT's Allante Holston, a freshman from Capitol Heights, MD, had career highs in points (17), rebounds (seven) and shot blocks (two).
• Deckie Johnson, a junior from Memphis, TN, had five offensive rebounds and nine total, both highs for his North Texas career.
• Jeremy Combs had 13 points, his fifth-straight game this year in double figures.
• Carrington Ward, a redshirt junior from Philadelphia, matched his season and career highs with 10 points.
• In the penultimate game of the Mean Green Challenge, Samford dominated Idaho, 75-58. The Bulldogs went 3-0 in Denton and improved to 5-1 on the season. Idaho, which went 2-1 in the Challenge, is 4-2.
North Texas hits the road for the first time this season, and a rugged road it is. On Monday, Nov. 30, the Mean Green face Northern Iowa, which already has wins this year over Stephen F. Austin, which reached the NCAA Tournament the last two years, and North Carolina, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time. On Thursday, Dec. 3, North Texas takes on local rival UT-Arlington, which boasts wins this year over perennial national powers Ohio State and Memphis. The Mean Green return home on Saturday, Dec. 5, for a game against Southern Illinois.