North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball starts 3-0 for first time in six seasons

Men’s basketball starts 3-0 for first time in six seasons

November 19
22:03 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team won its third straight game to start the season, defeating Delaware State University 62-55 at the Super Pit Wednesday night. The 3-0 start is the team’s first since the 2007-2008 season.

“I’m really proud of the game and the effort that our guys gave,” head coach Tony Benford said. “It was a great team effort and a great team win for us.”

The game started with four straight three-point baskets, three of which came from DSU. However, senior guard Jordan Williams and junior guard Maurice Aniefiok, who started tonight after missing Monday’s game due to a violation of team rules, came out of the gates firing and accounted for the team’s first 15 points, with Williams scoring 10 of them.

“In the beginning their defense was kind of scrambled. They didn’t know if they wanted to play man or play zone,” Williams said. “My teammates caught me open in the corners a couple of times, and I just set my feet and knocked down the shots.”

The game was tied at 16 midway through the first half, but the Hornets went on an 11-5 run to take a 27-21 lead. The Mean Green responded with six straight points to tie the game at 27-27 going into halftime. Williams led all scorers at halftime with 12 points and finished the game with a team-leading 17 points.

The North Texas defense started the second half strong by forcing a couple of steals and jumping out to a 37-32 lead. The Hornets cut the lead to 47-46 after draining four of the team’s first six shots from downtown halfway through the second half.

Missed free throws haunted DSU down the stretch however, shooting only 33% from the line in the second half. North Texas routinely took advantage of the misses in the fast break department, including a cutting dunk from senior forward Armani Flannigan.

The Mean Green big man starred for the home team in crunch time, routinely making hustle plays and clutch shots down the stretch. Flannigan tipped in a missed three-pointer to give the Mean Green a 57-51 lead and went to the line four times in the final minute and a half. He sank all four free throws to ice the game for North Texas despite only shooting 30 percent for his career from the line prior to tonight’s game.

“I want to be in the game in late game situations and the way to do that is to knock down your free throws,” Flannigan said.

Flannigan was a big reason North Texas won the majority of the hustle plays throughout the night, especially down the stretch. The Mean Green led DSU offensive rebounds, fast break points and second chance opportunities.

“We talk about being the toughest team on the floor,” Benford said. “We’ve got to do what we call EGB’s, energy generating behaviors. We’ve got to get the loose balls, we’ve got to try and get the offensive rebounds, and just be very active.”

Next up for North Texas is Iona University on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Super Pit. It will be the fourth of five home games to open up the season for the Mean Green.

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