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Men’s basketball loses fifth straight
Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer
The Mean Green men’s basketball team leapt out to an early 8-0 lead Thursday night as sophomore forward Tony Mitchell scored early with a powerful breakaway dunk and a pull-up three pointer. But a fast start wasn’t enough for UNT. Western Kentucky came back to win 70-59.
The Mean Green’s momentum was snapped when Mitchell picked up his second foul in the first half and was taken out of the game. The Hilltoppers (7-6, 13-11) took a 23-22 lead with less than three minutes left in the first half.
“The first half, Tony getting in foul trouble that really hurt us,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We were in a pretty good rhythm, and he was in a great rhythm early. He was as aggressive as he’s been all year early.”
Nine of the 10 Hilltopppers who played contributed points, including two 14-point performances from sophomore forward George Fant and senior guard Jamal Crook.
After trailing by 11, UNT (8-17, 3-11) settled itself and rallied back. The quiet Super Pit crowd surged as Mean Green sophomore guard Jordan Williams sunk a deep three-point shot to tie the game. From that point penalties and turnovers halted UNT’s comeback hopes.
Senior guard Roger Franklin said the Mean Green is going to need help from its bench, which only scored one point, if it wants to make a run in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Four UNT players contributed 58 of the 59 points.
“We’ve got to get them ready to play a little bit more,” senior guard Roger Franklin said. “They have to come in with the mindset, ‘At the end of the day I have to contribute because if I don’t we will continue to lose.’ Period. Point-blank. And they will start to contribute.”
Junior guard Alzee Williams said the team is coming to terms with playing short-handed this season.
“We’re going to have to fight through it,” he said. “We’ve got like seven really healthy guys. We’re going to have to bring it every day in practice and keep working hard.”
Caging the Panthers
The Mean Green takes on Florida International University at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Super Pit.
UNT lost to FIU earlier this season 64-70 and FIU (12-10, 7-6) hopes to extend its two-game winning streak.
The Golden Panthers are led by junior forward Tymell Murphy, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game.
The Mean Green will have to limit Murphy’s impact to get its fourth conference win.