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Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 7

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 7

North Texas men's basketball head coach Tony Benford explains the plays from last weeks games to Dave Barnett on the February 22nd edition of the Coach's Show. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 7
February 22
14:38 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

Mean Green women’s and men’s basketball head coaches Jalie Mitchell and Tony Benford were all smiles at the penultimate episode of the coach’s show at Rudy’s BBQ on Monday. With the men extending its home winning streak and the women splitting a pair of road games, each team has things to be excited about with just two weeks left in the regular season.

First Half: Jalie Mitchell

Headed into a road matchup against Florida International University on a five game losing streak last Thursday, the Mean Green women posted one of its most impressive victories of the season, winning 58-40. The game included an 18-0 run over a span of more than 13 minutes and was the first time in 126 games North Texas held an opponent to 40 points or fewer.

“Since I preach defense a lot, that was a ton of fun, just to have that kind of success,” Mitchell said. “We talk about defense. We practice defense on a daily basis. So when you have a game plan and you execute it well, those are the types of things that can happen.”

Mitchell said the team’s three seniors have been great mentors on the defensive end all season. And with senior night looming on Saturday’s home matchup with Southern Mississippi University, Mitchell is beginning to reflect and be thankful for what the senior class has done for the program.

“I really hate that I only have one year with them,” Mitchell said. “I really enjoy our senior class. That group really took seriously in my opinion trying to lay a foundation from a culture standpoint, and I’m really appreciative of them.”

North Texas women's basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell talks with Steven Bartolotta on the February 22nd edition of the basketball Coach's Show. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas women’s basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell talks with Steven Bartolotta on the February 22nd edition of the basketball Coach’s Show. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

The gratefulness was reciprocated from senior guard and this week’s player guest Teadra Jones, who particularly enjoyed the way Mitchell treated the veterans when she first arrived to the program.

“She was very inviting,” Jones said. “She didn’t judge us on things that she heard before. We all kind of got equal opportunities to show who we were and what we wanted to do.”

Looking ahead, North Texas (9-15, 4-10) has only four regular season games remaining before the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. The Mean Green currently sit in 13th place out of 14 teams.

“I don’t really think you can look forward,” Mitchell said. “I just think you just have to put your best foot forward as far as winning out. Then, you sort of see where that takes you. I’m excited about our chances.”

Second Half: Tony Benford

The men’s team is coming off its second consecutive 2-0 home stand, earning its tenth home win of the season and further solidifying its position in the C-USA standings. Thursday’s win wasn’t easy, though, as the Mean Green trailed by 12 with around six minutes remaining.

Thanks to one of junior guard Deckie Johnson’s eight threes in the game with under a minute left, North Texas pulled off a 77-75 comeback victory. Johnson finished with a career-high 32 points, including 19 in the final eight minutes of action.

“Deckie just took over the game,” Benford said. “I tell you what, he hit some big-time shots, but we got stops and we got easy baskets in transition.”

On Saturday, a balanced effort helped the Mean Green get back in the win column, downing Florida Atlantic University 70-62. Benford’s squad had control of the inside throughout, outscoring FAU 28-14 in the paint.

North Texas basketball sophomore guard Greg White-Pittman grins while talking with Dave Barnett on the Coach's Show on February 22nd. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas basketball sophomore guard Greg White-Pittman grins while talking with Dave Barnett on the Coach’s Show on February 22nd. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

“What we wanted to establish there was the paint,” Benford said. “We talk about paint touches. We wanted to establish that early on, and we did that.”

Sophomore guard and radio guest Greg White-Pittman was one of the most vocal bench supporters of the week, and said the locker room after Thursday’s thrilling win had one of the most energetic atmospheres of the year.

“We lost a couple games coming in, so it riled us down a little bit,” White-Pittman said. “We needed these wins to push us up.”

North Texas (6-8, 11-16) now sits in seventh place in C-USA and will face Louisiana Tech University and Southern Miss on the road this week, two teams it has already beaten earlier this season. But those games were at the Super Pit, and the Mean Green still need to overcome its road woes, only having won one game away from Denton.

“We’ve got to win on the road,” Benford said. “That’s the challenge for our guys, and we talk about that as a staff. The thing is, we’ve got to be consistent on the defensive end, especially in the second half.”

Featured Image: North Texas men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford explains the plays from last weeks games to Dave Barnett on the February 22nd edition of the Coach’s Show. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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