North Texas Daily

Six score in double figures as men’s basketball wins season opener

Six score in double figures as men’s basketball wins season opener

November 14
20:12 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team defeated the University of Arkansas-Monticello in its season opener 84-62 Friday night at the Super Pit.

Three Mean Green newcomers scored in double-figures, including freshman Jeremy Combs’ 17 points on 78 percent shooting. Freshman guard Greg White-Pittman and junior forward Muhammed Ahmed added 10 points apiece.

“All three of those kids are hard workers,” head coach Tony Benford said. “Those guys are coachable. They’re what we want this program to be about. They’re accountable on and off the court. Those guys are just committed, and you’ve got to have that.”

North Texas (1-0) began the game with a 7-2 run that was fueled by four points in the paint from senior forward Colin Voss. UAM (0-1) fought back and led by one early in the first half, but that was the only time North Texas trailed in the game.

The Mean Green played a man-to-man defensive scheme for a majority of the game as opposed to its usual zone defense, but Benford said the team will continue to work on a variety of defenses.

“We’ve got to continue to work on that, and we will shore that up,” Benford said. “Also you saw that we extended our defense too. We’re going to continue to change our defenses up as we move forward. So I thought we did a good job.”

The North Texas forwards were active on both ends of the court in the first half and propelled the Mean Green to a 42-30 lead at the break. Voss and Combs combined for 19 of the Mean Green’s 42 first half points and 12 of the team’s 23 rebounds.

Combs, who started after coming off the bench in the team’s exhibition game, missed a break-away dunk, but scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half. The freshman finished the game just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds, and two blocks

“I felt pretty comfortable,” Combs said of his first collegiate start. “I was just getting in with my teammates. We were trying to get into a groove to get the game going early.”

The Weevils hit a couple of 3-pointers early in the second half, but the Mean Green responded with a 9-0 run of its own sparked by Combs. UAM failed to keep the game close, trailing by as much as 22 points in the second half.

The Mean Green has one of the smaller rosters in Conference USA this season, but they were able to take advantage of an undersized UAM lineup and outscore the Weevils in the paint 58-36. North Texas also out-rebounded the Weevils 44-34.

“As coach always says, it’s everybody’s job to rebound,” Voss said. “But I feel with the bigs, we’ve got to take responsibility doing that ahead of everybody else.”

The Mean Green also showcased its up-tempo offense for the first time this season, but the team struggled to finish in transition with just eight fast break points. Although senior guard Jordan Williams registered a career high nine assists with only one turnover, Benford said White-Pittman and junior transfer Todd Eaglin are still learning the new offensive scheme.

“Our break is pretty unique,” Benford said. “For guys running, if it’s not there, we do what we call ‘cross the street.’ But as we move forward, those guys will do better with that.”

Next up for the Mean Green is a home contest against Nicholls State University on Monday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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