North Texas Daily

Big plays at end propel men’s basketball to win over UAB

Big plays at end propel men’s basketball to win over UAB

February 12
22:29 2015

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

For the second time this season, the Mean Green men’s basketball team took down the top team in Conference USA, defeating the University of Alabama at Birmingham 67-64 at the Super Pit Thursday night.

North Texas (10-13, 4-7) won in the trenches, eclipsing UAB (13-12, 9-3) in rebounds, points in the paint and free throws. Head coach Tony Benford said winning the down low was the formula for success.

“I really loved the toughness of our guys tonight,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We got stops defensively, we finished those possessions with rebounds, and then we were able to execute what we needed to execute, especially in the second half late. And that’s how you win games.”

The game was neck and neck for the opening six minutes, with senior forward Colin Voss scoring seven of the Mean Green’s first nine points. However, five early North Texas turnovers allowed the Blazers to race to a 16-9 lead.

The Blazers continued to slice through the Mean Green defense, going up 27-15 with six minutes remaining in the first half. However, North Texas closed the half with a 17-4 run that was capped off with a transition layup with the clock ticking down from senior forward Armani Flannigan to take 32-31 lead into halftime.

“We were just moving too fast and just a little too antsy with the ball. That’s all it was,” senior guard Jordan Williams said. “But after that, we calmed down and we got it together.”

A UAB three pointer to start the second half sparked a 12-7 run that helped the Blazers regain the lead. UAB extended the lead to 49-44 midway through the second half, but a 10-0 Mean Green run sparked by Williams put North Texas back on top. The Mean Green forced four turnovers and held UAB scoreless for over four minutes.

It did not take the Blazers long to respond. They tied the game in just a few seconds after freshman sharpshooter Nick Norton drilled a deep three and the UAB defense forced a steal that turned into a breakaway dunk.

UAB held a 57-56 lead with 4:08 remaining but committed its eighth foul of the game, putting the Mean Green in the bonus. Williams sank both free throws, but a foul by North Texas on UAB’s next possession put the Blazers in the bonus as well. UAB guard Hakeem Baxter went to the line on its next three possessions and made all six free throws to give the Blazers a 62-59 lead.

North Texas tied the game at 62 on an inbounds play to Williams as he sank a tough layup, drew the foul and sank the resulting free throw. Two possessions later, sophomore guard DeAndre Harris made a clutch steal and took the ball all the way up the court for a go-ahead layup.

The Mean Green forced another defensive stop, and senior guard T.J. Taylor seemingly iced the game with a cutting layup following a jump ball. UAB cut the North Texas lead to 66-64 after a tip-in following a missed three pointer, and Voss was only able to make one of two free throws following a UAB intentional foul with three seconds remaining.

“The first one rattled out and I was quite confused. I was shocked,” Voss said. “I was like ‘Alright, I’m just going to make this one. I’ll just make the second one. Whatever.’ And then I made the second one. It was a fluke, and I’ll make those next time.”

With the score at 67-64, the Blazers had time to run one final play, but they missed an open look for three to seal their fate.

Williams and Voss led all scorers with 14 points each, with Williams recording his eighth career double-double by adding ten rebounds.

The Mean Green stay at the Super Pit for a Valentine’s Day date with Middle Tennessee State University Saturday at 7 p.m.

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