Benford Excited About Team's Grit Heading Into Friday's Opener
North Texas vs. Arkansas-Monticello Friday at 5 p.m. at The Super Pit
North Texas vs. Arkansas-Monticello (0-0, 0-0 GAC)
DENTON - Monday night's 106-100 overtime exhibition win over Oklahoma City confirmed a few things for North Texas head coach Tony Benford.
First off, Benford's Mean Green will be able to score on just about anyone. Their athleticism and depth helped NT rack up 106 points - the most by North Texas in any competition since 2005-06.
Secondly, the offense is still way ahead of the defense, which forced 15 turnovers but allowed 100 points to a hot-shooting Stars squad.
What Benford didn't know until the final minutes of the exhibition was that his team has some grit. Trailing OCU by nine points with 2:40 left in regulation, Benford's bunch rallied to force the extra session. The senior leadership, fronted by Jordan Williams, sparked the comeback, and North Texas out-scored OCU, 29-14, for the remainder of the game.
"Last year's team would have lost this game," Benford said in the postgame press conference. "This team has a lot of resilience."
Plenty of teams across the country would love to have staged the comeback North Texas did in its exhibition game. Memphis, Oregon State, Arkansas State, Texas Tech, Bradley and Middle Tennessee all fell in exhibition contests over the last week.
While these games don't count, exhibitions are all about learning. What do we do well? What do we need to work on? What kind of team do I have at my disposal?
Benford knew his team could score and that the defense still has work to do, but a little determination can go a long way.
About the Opponent: Arkansas-Monticello
• This will be the first regular season matchup between NT and UAM, although the two teams met for an exhibition contest in 2010-11. That night, Shannon Shorter was 7-of-11 from the field for a game-high tying 23 points in the 80-73 win over the Boll Weevils. NT shot 50.9 percent from the floor, including a 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) mark from 3-point. Dominique Johnson hit 4-of-5 shots from deep, and George Odufuwa tallied a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. LA Farmer led UAM with 23 points and 11 rebounds, but the Boll Weevils shot just 7-of-28 (25.0 percent) from 3-point.
• Friday's season opener will count as an exhibition for UAM, but will be a regular season game for North Texas.
• Just like the 2010-11 exhibition meeting with UAM, the Boll Weevils bring a new coaching staff to the Super Pit. Kyle Tolin has taken the reigns of the UAM program (from Allen Sharpe) after a 10-year stay as an assistant coach at his alma mater Oklahoma Baptist University. Tolin helped OBU reach 14 straight NAIA National Tournaments as a player and assistant coach, including a national title in 2010. As a player, he was a 1,000-point scorer and a two-time All-SAC honorable mention all-conference selection.
• UAM is coming off a 19-10 season in 2013-14, including a 12-8 mark in the Great American Conference.
• The Boll Weevils were tabbed to finish last of the 11 teams in the Great American Conference (GAC) in 2014-15. Arkansas Tech was the heavy favorite in the GAC.