North Texas Stunned By Prairie View A&M, 70-67
Mean Green Blows 11-Point Second-Half Lead
Jordan Williams led North Texas in scoring with 15 points Wednesday night. (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - Two days after one of the biggest wins in North Texas basketball's recent history, the Mean Green suffered a let-down loss with an uninspired effort in a 70-67 defeat against Prairie View A&M at the Super Pit.
For the second time in two games, the Mean Green squandered a double-digit second-half lead. North Texas survived losing 25 of a 27-point margin to Creighton, but couldn't recover after the Panthers (2-10) erased an 11-point advantage.
"Put it on me," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "It's my fault. I talked to our guys, gave them scores of teams beaten by teams with one win. I should have had them more ready. I thought I did, but we just didn't execute.
"Back to square one," he added. "I thought we could build some momentum, then we just gave it away. Very embarrassing."
Prairie View trailed 47-36 six minutes into the second half before going on a 30-12 run to take a 66-59 lead with less than four minutes to play. The Mean Green pulled within two twice, the last time at 69-67 on a T.J. Taylor three-pointer with 6.2 seconds to play. After the Panthers made one of two free throws, North Texas got one last chance to tie but Jordan Williams's long-distance three at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Benford said. "It's a lesson for our guys. You've got to respect every opponent and be ready every time you take the court. They were excited to play, and I don't know why we weren't. We didn't play."
North Texas used a scoring-by-committee offense but could not find consistent sources of points. Seven players scored at least six points, led by Williams with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds and DeAndre Harris with 11 points, but the Mean Green hit an anemic 10-of-20 from the free-throw line and five-of-20 from three-point range.
Prairie View never lacked for intensity Tuesday, opening the game shooting 67 percent from the floor - including three of four from three-point range - in the first eight minutes to take a 15-8 lead.
North Texas, however, began moving the ball instead of settling for outside shots and exploiting its advantage inside to force Prairie View into 10 fouls and put the Mean Green in the bonus. On defense, meanwhile, NT sapped the Panther momentum by forcing 10 turnovers, including on five-consecutive possessions. The result was a 20-6 scoring run that put North Texas on top and sent the Mean Green to a 34-27 intermission lead.
The lead grew to 11, 47-36, before Prairie View cut the margin to two with 12 minutes left, got even at 55-55 with 7:46 remaining, before taking a seven-point lead with a 9-0 run, led by Montreal Scott with 26 points.
• This was the Mean Green's first loss this year when leading at halftime.
• This was North Texas' first loss to a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference since 1989.
• Jordan Williams's climb up the North Texas career-scoring list continues. The senior guard from Dallas has 1,202 points, and is closing on David Miller (1995-98, 1,207 points) for 13th place on the all-time list.
• This was the 40th-career start for senior forward Colin Voss, including 27-straight.
• T.J. Taylor has been on a hot streak from the free-throw line. The senior from Denison has hit 13 of his last 15 charity shots in his last three games.
• Prairie View guard Tre Hagood had eight assists Tuesday, the most by a North Texas opponent this season.
• This was the first meeting between North Texas and Prairie View A&M.
North Texas concludes non-conference play in Lubbock on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. against Texas Tech, then returns home on Friday, Jan. 2, to open the Conference USA slate against UTEP.