DENTON (1/31/08) On his 22nd birthday, Collin Dennis scored 21 points to lead the North Texas men’s basketball team to a 70-68 victory against South Alabama, handing the Jaguars’ their first conference loss on Thursday night in the Super Pit.
The Mean Green (13-7, 4-5) snapped a three-game losing streak, ended South Alabama's 13-game win streak, and defeated USA for the first time in the last seven attempts. NT lost a heartbreaker last year in overtime, 90-89, to South Alabama (17-4, 8-1).
The North Texas bench came up big for the Mean Green after starters Keith Wooden and Quincy Williams got in early foul trouble. Dennis came off the bench to score 21 and Kedrick Hogans and Justin Howerton contributed key minutes. The NT bench outscored USA’s, 34-14.
The Mean Green turned it on the second half, shooting 50 percent, while holding the Jaguars to just seven field goals. Almost half of USA’s points in the latter period came from the free throw line. NT outscored USA in the second half, 40-32, with Dennis and Josh White scoring 26 of those 40 points.
After USA led by as many as 10 points in the first half, North Texas cut the lead to two at the start of the second period after Dennis and White each hit three-pointers. Williams gave North Texas its first lead of the second period with a layup, 42-41, with 15:40 left in the game. White gave the Mean Green a six-point lead, 47-41, with a three-pointer at 14:21. Neither team led by more then five points the rest of the way.
A free throw by Dennis tied the game for the eighth time at 63-63 with 3:16 left on the clock. USA cut the lead to one, but Dennis hit a key three-pointer to put NT ahead, 69-64, at 1:37. With North Texas ahead, 70-68, Demetric Bennett missed a three-pointer as time expired. Bennett led all scorers with 22 points.
White joined Dennis in double figures with 18 points. Hogans and Ben Bell scored eight and six points, respectively. USA outrebounded the Mean Green, 40-26.
North Texas returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 2 when it faces FIU at home at 7 pm.