HOUSTON, Texas (11/18/06) The North Texas basketball team bounced back with a gritty 71-69 win over Rice at Autry Court.
After falling to UT-Arlington earlier in the week, the Mean Green (3-1) hit over 49 percent of its shots and confused the Owls (2-2) with a tenacious zone defense in the second half.
North Texas held Rice to 1-of-10 on three point attempts in the second, and only 25 percent on the game.
“I think all of our guys knew we had to step up, and I think everyone did,” said North Texas head coach Johnny Jones. “This team really responded well out of the locker room.”
A one man show, Rice’s Dustin Almond accounted for 23 of his team’s 36 second-half points en route to a 38 point game. But, it wasn’t enough as North Texas hit four of six free throws in the final minute to seal the game. Rice’s next leading scorer had only six points.
North Texas, which improved to 7-3 all-time against Rice, jumped out to an early 10-5 lead thanks to Rich Young, who started in place of the injured Kendrick Davis. Young nailed a pair of jumpers and grabbed three early rebounds to open the game. Young finished with a career-high five steals and seven rebounds.
The Owls responded with an 18-0 run that saw North Texas go over six minutes without a basket. Almond was the catalyst, dropping in 14 first-half points.
North Texas was able to collect itself and reel off an 18-4 streak of its own to tie the game at 33-33 at the half.
Quincy Williams also had another strong game, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds. The junior tallied his second straight double-figure game against the Owls.
Calvin Watson led the Mean Green in scoring with 26, only two points off his career high.
The Mean Green returns to action at The Super Pit on Tuesday against another Conference USA opponent, Tulsa. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.