Free-Throw Barrage Spoils Benford's Red Raider Homecoming
Texas Tech Goes 20-of-25 From The Line To Pull Away From Tony Benford's Mean Green Squad
Tony Benford returned to his alma mater for the first time as a head coach on Monday night at Texas Tech.
LUBBOCK, Texas - Tony Benford spent four years dishing out assists for Texas Tech as a point guard under the legendary Gerald Myers, but on Monday he would have traded every dime for a win over his alma mater.
Tubby Smith and the Red Raiders (10-3) spoiled Benford's homecoming by busting open a four-point halftime lead with a free throw barrage that netted a 60-45 win at United Supermarkets Arena. Jordan Williams led the Mean Green (6-6) with a game-high 20 points, but its wasn't enough to overcome 16-of-21 shooting from the line in the second half from Texas Tech.
"I really like the way we competed tonight, but I give coach Smith and Texas Tech credit for grinding this game out," Benford said. "They did a great job in the second half of getting into the gaps of our zone defense and getting to the line. Overall, I liked our effort, but we just couldn't make a big enough run to get back into things."
The Mean Green defense had the Red Raiders frustrated for much of the evening. North Texas forced 19 turnovers - the most by a Mean Green opponent this year - and turned them in to 20 points. That helped North Texas cut into the Tech lead, but NT didn't do itself any favors with 34.6 percent shooting on the night.
After shooting just four free throws in the opening frame, the Red Raiders changed their approach in the second half. Overall, Texas Tech was 20-of-25 (80.0 percent) from the line.
Tony Benford made his first trip back to Lubbock as the North Texas head coach. Benford starred for the Red Raiders from 1983-86, and still ranks 8th in TTU history with 341 career assists. Benford was the Southwest Conference Tournament MVP in 1986.
Benford had over 60 requests for tickets from friends and family. The third-year head coach grew up just across the border in Hobbs, N.M.
Jordan Williams passed David Miller (1995-98) for 13th on the North Texas career scoring charts. Williams now has 1,222 for his career.
North Texas is now 0-4 away from Denton this year, although the games have been against top-notch competition. NT has fallen at Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech.
NT's 45 points are a season low, and its 34.6 percent shooting are the second lowest of the season.
Entering tonight's contest, Texas Tech held a 9-6 overall lead in the series, including a 5-1 edge in Lubbock.
North Texas opens up Conference USA play at the Super Pit against UTEP, which was tabbed to finish second in C-USA by the league's coaches.