North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball loses first game of season

Men’s basketball loses first game of season

Men’s basketball loses first game of season
November 23
20:45 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team lost its first game of the season on Sunday afternoon, falling to Iona College 78-58 at the Super Pit.

Gaels’ guard A.J English lit up North Texas (3-1) with a career high 37 points, the second most points by an individual against the Mean Green in school history. English hit five of his 11 shots from the three-point line and finished the day shooting 11-21 from the field to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

“Those guards are as good as any that we’ll play all year,” head coach Tony Benford said. “Even going to Arkansas or Oklahoma State, he can play anywhere.”

Iona (3-1) has a high-powered offense, particularly from three-point range as they led the NCAA last year in threes made, but North Texas neutralized the Iona attack in the first half. The Gaels drilled their first shot of the game from downtown, but the Mean Green responded with a 10-0 run that included a couple of threes of its own. Iona only made three of their next 19 threes, putting them at only 20 percent at the half from three.

North Texas had a seven point lead at 30-23 with less than two minutes to go in the first half, but a series of miscues, including an inbound pass that went right through the hands of freshman forward Jeremy Combs, allowed Iona to climb back into the game and tie it at 32-32 going into halftime. Senior guard Jordan Williams led the Mean Green with nine first half points but only finished the game with 11.

The second half began exactly like the first with an immediate Iona three. Unlike the first half however, it was the Gaels who opened the half with a 10-0 run. It took North Texas four and a half minutes to get on the board in a second half where Iona outscored the Mean Green by 20. The threes continued to fall for Iona as well, sinking six of ten in the second half.

“We came out flat. We didn’t have any energy,” senior guard T.J. Taylor said. “You can’t let someone jump out on you with a 10-0 run at the beginning of a half.”

Offensively, the Mean Green only had one player, Williams, score in double figures, and nobody posted a double-digit rebound total.  North Texas also turned it over sixteen times which turned into 24 Iona points. North Texas also failed to get to the free throw line and attempted only 12 free throws, making nine of them, compared to Iona’s 25 attempts.

“I wasn’t being aggressive [in the second half]. I was trying to get my teammates involves,” Williams said. “I felt like we had some good passes, but we just weren’t executing. We had a lot of turnovers. We just couldn’t get into our offense.”

North Texas will host Mississippi Valley State University on Wednesday night to conclude a five-game home stand to start the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

Featured Image: Freshman guard Greg White-Pittman fights for possession of a loose ball against an Iona College defender. Pittman came away with three points and a rebound in the Mean Green’s first loss of the season on Sunday evening. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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