Late-night hoops rewind: Southern Miss 75, UNT 65

Final: Southern Miss 75, North Texas 65

Where UNT stands: UNT fell to 6-12 after dropping its sixth straight game to open Conference USA play. The Mean Green have now lost seven straight games.

Now what?: The Mean Green will look to break through for their firs win in C-USA play on Saturday at Louisiana Tech, which is 13-6 overall and 5-1 in C-USA play.

Green

Green

Star of the day: Derail Green came off the bench to score 17 points and grab six rebounds before fouling out of UNT’s loss to Southern Miss. Green went 5-for-10 from 3-point range against Southern Miss. UNT had three players finish in double figures. Ryan Woolridge finished with 15 points and A.J. Lawson added 14 for the Mean Green. UNT’s trio of players in double figures helped keep the Mean Green in the game on a night several of its key players struggled. Jeremy Combs and J-Mychal Reese both finished with three points.

Say what?:

“We played a better second half down the stretch. We came out flat in the first half and fell behind early. I thought A.J. Lawson and Ryan Woolridge gave us a spark in the second half.”

– Tony Benford, UNT coach on the Mean Green’s performance in their loss to Southern Miss.

Our take: UNT matched is longest losing streak of the Tony Benford era with its loss to Southern Miss. The Mean Green have now dropped seven straight and remain in a tie for last place in the C-USA standings with Florida International at 0-6.

UNT did get Deckie Johnson back in its lineup and saw him respond with two 3s and six points.

The Mean Green’s problem was they didn’t show up early in the first half and went through another tough stretch offensively early in the second half. Southern Miss led 10-1 before Reese hit a layup for UNT’s first field goal at the 14:11 mark.

UNT fought back and took an 18-17 lead on a Ja’Michael Brown 3, but then went more then five minutes without scoring.

The Mean Green trailed by 20 points late before making a cosmetic run.

The big question now for UNT is how long it will go without another win. UNT’s next game at Louisiana Tech doesn’t look promising . The Mean Green have already lost to Charlotte, Old Dominion and Rice, the teams they will face when they return to the Super Pit.

UNT has games against Florida Atlantic and Florida International, two other C-USA cellar-dwellers in early February, but both of those games are on the road. The Mean Green have won just one road game since the beginning of last season and are 1-19 away from the Super Pit in that span.

To make matters worse, UNT still hasn’t gotten Keith Frazier back from a knee injury yet.

The way things are going, it seems like a foregone conclusion that this will go down as one of the worst seasons in an awfully long time for UNT.

UNT- Southern Miss running blog

The North Texas women’s basketball team will face Southern Miss at the Super Pit tonight, and once again we are along for the ride here on the blog.

The Mean Green lost a heart-breaker in their last outing, falling at home to Rice 51-49.

UNT has played some terrific defense this year, which was the subject of a little feature I wrote for today’s paper.

Southern Miss is a quick team that likes to pressure opponents and get out and run.

The key for UNT today will be to take care of the ball, which will be tough with both Candice Adams and Kelsey Criner at less than 100 percent.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog throughout the game.

6:59 — UNT wide receiver Will Boyd sang the national anthem tonight. He was really good, too. Pretty cool.

Starters for UNT — Tosin Mabodu, Kelsey Criner, Candice Adams, Terra Ellison and Terriell Bradley.

3:32 — UNT is down 14-12 at the first media timeout. Southern Miss is headed to the line coming out of this timeout. Terra Ellison has seven points for UNT and is playing well in the early going.

End of the first quarter — UNT is down 21-17 at the end of the first quarter. Terriell Bradley had a shot from halfcourt go halfway down and pop back out. Terra Ellison has seven points for UNT.

4:59 — UNT and Southern Miss are all tied up at 27-27 in the second quarter here at the Super Pit. Terriell Bradley had 10 points for UNT and is really shooting the ball well. She is 4-for-7 from the field.

3:43 — Candice Adams just hit a 3 from the wing and was plowed over in the process. She is headed to the line with UNT up 30-27.

31.8 — UNT is up 33-30 with 28 seconds left on the shot clock and just took a timeout to save a possession in the backcourt.

Halftime — UNT is up 33-30 at halftime of its game against Southern Miss here at the Super Pit. Terriell Bradley has 11 points for UNT, which held the Golden Eagles without a field goal for the last 5:23 of the first half. UNT has played really well defensively in the early going.

4:58 — UNT is up 41-34 on Southern Miss in the third quarter. Southern Miss just took a timeout. Terra Ellison has 13 points for UNT.

4:23 — We had a quick turnaround from a Southern Miss timeout to the media timeout. UNT is up 41-36. Terriell Bradley has 11 points for the Mean Green. UNT is handling Southern Miss’ press pretty well.

End of the third quarter — UNT has extended its lead to 52-43 heading into the fourth quarter. Terriell Bradley and Terra Ellison both have 15 points for the Mean Green.

6:57 — UNT is up 60-51 and just took a timeout after struggling to break Southern Miss’ press. Candice Adams hit a 3 a few minutes ago and now has 11 points for UNT.

2:40 — UNT is up 70-57 and is closing out its game against Southern Miss here at the Super Pit. Terra Ellison and Terriell Bradley both have 15 points for UNT.

Final — UNT wins 75-62.

Report: Former UNT coach Mike Canales on the move

Canales

Canales

Former North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales is on the move, according to a report from 247Sports.

Canales was at UNT from 2010-2015 and twice served as the Mean Green’s interim coach. He spent last season at Utah State.

Canales has been searching for the opportunity to become a head coach for years, but hasn’t received his break yet.

He has been close with Tennessee coach Butch Jones for years.

Canales took over UNT’s program when the school finally fired Todd Dodge after one of the dark eras in program history that saw the former Southlake Carroll coach post a 6-37 record from 2007 through the first seven games of the 2010 season.

Canales took over a program that had won just one of its last 11 games under Dodge, statistically the worst coach in program history, and immediately led the Mean Green to a 2-3 finish.

He took over again after UNT fired Dan McCarney five games into the 2015 season and led UNT to a 1-6 record over the final seven games of the year. UNT’s lone win that season under Canales — a 30-23 victory over Texas-San Antonio — prevented the Mean Green from finishing without a win for the first time since 1913. UNT lost its only game in the program’s debut season.

Canales and UNT agreed it was time to part ways after he finished his second stint as the Mean Green’s interim coach. He’s one of the better guys to come through UNT in years. It’s good to see him moving back up the food chain as an assistant coach again.

UNT 2013 recruiting class review

North Texas linebacker Fred Scott tackles Louisiana Tech running back Boston Scott (6) at Apogee Stadium last season. Scott was one of UNT's most productive players from its 2013 signing class. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas linebacker Fred Scott tackles Louisiana Tech running back Boston Scott (6) at Apogee Stadium last season. Scott was one of UNT’s most productive players from its 2013 signing class. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas is heading into the home stretch of the recruiting season as it prepares to sign its 2017 class. Before we reach the finish line, it’s time to take a look back at 2013.

UNT was coming off a 4-8 season in Dan McCarney’s second year in Denton and was looking to build for the future. The Mean Green signed a few players who turned out to be key pieces of their Heart of Dallas Bowl team just a year later, including cornerback James Jones. UNT also signed a few players who turned out to be busts.

Here is a  look back:

Best player – Linebacker Fred Scott: The former Kennedale never quite developed into a star on the Conference USA level, but there might not have been a more consistent and critical player for the Mean Green over the last four years. Scott started his last three seasons at UNT, finished with 177 tackles and was a team captain as a senior when he he helped guide the Mean Green through a coaching transition in Seth Littrell’s first year. Scott was a model player on and off the field who was an All-Conference USA Academic Team selection as a senior.

Most surprising player – Wide receiver Turner Smiley: UNT has employed a run-first offense during Smiley’s four seasons with the Mean Green. Smiley also wasn’t particularly highly recruited, but he has contributed throughout his career. The Frisco Wakeland standout has 72 receptions for 839 yards and four touchdowns in his career.

Most disappointing player – Quarterback Dajon Williams: UNT spent years searching for its next great quarterback after the departure of Derek Thompson following its win over UNLV in the 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Mean Green appeared to have their man in Williams early in the 2014 season when he led UNT to a 77-3 win over Nicholls State. Williams threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and another two touchdowns. The former Pflugerville Connally standout was never able to build on that success and quickly washed out of the program.

Player who still hasn’t broken out yet, but could – Linebacker Calvin Minor: UNT made major strides in its new 3-3-5 defense last season that gives players an opportunity to make game-changing plays. Minor has talent, has contributed throughout his career and could produce at a higher level as a senior.

My grade for the class – C: UNT picked up several players who contributed to a pair of bowl teams in 2013, including Jones, Scott and Smiley, but also had its share of busts. JUCO transfer Justin Manu never played a down for UNT after the school found out his eligibility clock had run out. Offensive linemen Cody Nelson and Dominic Walker never contributed.

Thursday afternoon recruiting update — Tavares Thomas to visit both UNT and MTSU

Thomas

Thomas

The battle for the services of Navarro College linebacker Tavares Thomas appears as if it will come down to a two-team race between North Texas and one of its Conference USA rivals.

Thomas told the Denton Record-Chronicle earlier today that he would decide between taking a scheduled official visit to Middle Tennessee this weekend or cancelling and visiting UNT.

Thomas said this afternoon that headed to MTSU now and is planning to visit UNT next weekend. He is trying to confirm with UNT’s coaches that his visit to Denton is on the books.

I went over Thomas’ background on the blog earlier today, but to review:

Thomas finished with 82 tackles and 11 sacks last season, when he was named to the All-SWJCFC-team. Here are his Hudl highlights.

UNT defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler is recruiting Thomas, who is intrigued by the possibility of playing his final two seasons in Texas. He played at Lamar Consolidated.

“I would like to stay in Texas so my mom could watch games,” Thomas said. “North Texas is my top school right now.”

MTSU has yet to offer, but could extend an offer when he visits this weekend. UTEP has also shown interest.

Thomas, who is listed at 6-0 and 215 pounds on Navarro’s website, said he was told by Ekeler that he could play multiple linebacker spots in UNT’s 3-3-5 defense. He appears to be fit best as an outside linebacker. UNT lost Fred Scott to graduation after last season.

UNT finished 5-8 and lost to Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. MTSU finished 8-5 and lost to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

Thursday recruiting status report — UNT LB target making key decision in next hour

North Texas could find out in the next hour if it will add a key piece to its 2017 recruiting class.

Tavares Thomas, a linebacker from Navarro College, is schedule to take on official visit to Middle Tennessee this weekend.

The question now is if he will make the trip. UNT has entered the picture and has invited the All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference selection to come to Denton this weekend.

The key advantage for UNT is that it has offered Thomas a scholarship. UNT defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler is recruiting Thomas.

“North Texas offered about three days ago,” Thomas said. “It was very exciting to get my first Division I offer. I met with coach Ek and he said that the way I move and put my nose on people would make me a fit for his defense.”

Thomas finished with 82 tackles and 11 sacks last season, when he was named to the All-SWJCFC-team. Here are his Hudl highlights.

Thomas said Ekeler has told him that he could play either linebacker spot in UNT’s 4-2-5 defense.

UTEP has also shown interest in Thomas, who played for Lamar Consolidated.

“I would like to stay in Texas so my mom could watch games,” Thomas said. “North Texas is my top school right now. Middle has talked about offering if I visit.

“I have to decide if I want to go go Middle Tennessee or North Texas this weekend. I will make that decision in the next hour or so.”

Stay tuned.

Chalk talk: UNT at Southern Miss

North Texas senior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) forces his way to the basket as Middle Tennessee guard Xavier Habersham (4) and Tyrik Dixon (0) attempt to block his path last week. UNT will take on Southern Miss today on the road. (DRC/Tomas Gonzalez)

North Texas senior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) forces his way to the basket as Middle Tennessee guard Xavier Habersham (4) and Tyrik Dixon (0) attempt to block his path last week. UNT will take on Southern Miss today on the road. (DRC/Tomas Gonzalez)

North Texas at Southern Miss

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Reed Green Coliseum, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Radio: KHYI-FM 95.3, KNTU-FM 88.1

Records: UNT 6-11, 0-5 Conference USA; Southern Miss 5-12, 2-3 Conference USA

Last game: Rice 101, UNT 79; Charlotte 82, Southern Miss 66

Projected UNT starting lineup:

PG: J-Mychal Reese, 6-2, Sr. — Reese has scored in double figures in five of UNT’s last six games and is coming off an 18-point outing in the Mean Green’s loss to Rice. Reese has hit his last three 3-point attempts over the course of two games and is averaging 9.5 points per game.

G: Ja’Michael Brown, 6-5, So. — Brown scored six points in UNT’s loss to Rice. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts and is averaging 6.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Brown is just one game removed from a 21-point outing in a loss to Middle Tennessee.

G: A.J. Lawson, 6-5, Fr. — Lawson has scored in double figures in each of UNT’s last two games and tallied 12 points in the Mean Green’s loss to Rice. He is averaging 9.6 points per game.

F: Jeremy Combs, 6-7, Jr. — Combs finished with nine points and four rebounds in UNT’s loss to Rice. He is averaging 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and has scored at least nine points in each of UNT’s last three games.

F: Derail Green, 6-7, Sr. — Green scored five points and grabbed three rebounds in UNT’s loss to Rice. He is averaging 6.2 points and 2.5 rebounds on the season.

Scouting Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles have lost consecutive games on the road at Old Dominion and Charlotte and will look to rebound at home against UNT. Southern Miss is 5-3 at home with wins over Texas-San Antonio and UTEP. The Golden  Eagles are a low-scoring team that is averaging 61.4 points per game. Quinton Campbell is averaging 11.8 points per game to lead Southern Miss. The 6-7 forward posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds in the Golden Eagles’ loss to Charlotte.

What you need to know: UNT has lost six straight and at 0-5 in C-USA play is in danger of missing the conference tournament. Only 12 of the 14 teams in the league will qualify. The Mean Green are tied with Florida International for last place in the conference standings.

The good news for UNT is that there is a chance both Deckie Johnson and Keith Frazier, a pair of guards the Mean Green were counting on, could return from injury soon, possibly for Thursday’s game.

UNT needs all the help it can get on the road, where the Mean Green are just 1-18 since the beginning of last season.

UNT has allowed at least 100 points twice already in conference play, including in its last game against Rice.

 

Littrell to coach UNT’s running backs

Littrell

Littrell

North Texas officially announced the addition of Marty Biagi as its special teams coordinator today.

Here is our story from a few days ago about Biagi, a former Notre Dame analyst.

The addition of BIagi left just one question unanswered as far as UNT’s staff goes. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Denton Record-Chronicle on Wednesday evening that UNT head coach Seth Littrell will double as the Mean Green’s running backs coach.

Littrell was a standout running back at Oklahoma and coached running backs early in his career before developing into one of the nation’s elite offensive coordinators.

The Muskogee, Oklahoma, native rushed for 707 yards and 11 touchdowns at Oklahoma from 1997-2000. He was a team captain on the Sooners’ 2000 national championship team.

Littrell went on to serve as Texas Tech’s running backs coach from 2005-08. He also coached running backs, full backs and H-backs during his stints as an assistant coach at Arizona (2009-11) and Indiana (2012-13).

Littrell will fill the void left by the departure of Tommy Perry, who coached UNT’s running backs in addition to its special teams units last season.

 

Wednesday recruiting status report — Could UNT turn to JC ranks to fill LB hole?

One of the biggest questions for North Texas heading into national signing day and then spring practice is where the Mean Green will turn at linebacker.

UNT lost both of its starters in Fred Scott and Cortney Finney to graduation after last season.

There are two good young players returning who backed them up in Brandon Garner and E.J. Ejiya, but it appears as if the Mean Green are in the market for additional help.

UNT offered Navarro JC linebacker Tavares Thomas II yesterday.

That move is the subject of today’s recruiting status report as we count down the remaining days until national signing day.

Thomas finished with 82 tackles and 11 sacks last season, when he was named to the All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference team. Here are his Hudl highlights.

There isn’t much out there on Thomas as far as the recruiting websites go, but he appears to be a solid prospect who would address a position of need.

UNT brought in only one high school linebacker in its last two recruiting classes. Darrien McNair signed with the Mean Green in its 2015 class, but didn’t stick around. William Johnson signed with UNT out of Arizona Western before last season, but didn’t qualify.

UNT has one linebacker committed to sign in its 2017 class, but Kody Fulp is a high school product who could need some time to develop.

The Mean Green definately need some help after losing a pair of players who combined for 133 tackles last season in Scott and Finney, especially when one considers the misses UNT has experienced the last couple of years at linebacker.

Thomas appears to be on UNT’s radar as far as a player who could help fill that void.

Tuesday football notes — UNT among most improved teams in scoring offense, defense

Littrell

Littrell

There were a couple of interesting tidbits to come down on the North Texas football front today that I wanted to get to here on the blog.

First off, Coach Search, a website that follows the comings and goings in the coaching realm, crunched the numbers and came up with a list of the teams in college football that improved the most this season as far as scoring offense and scoring defense.

UNT tied for 12th nationally on the defensive side with an improvement of 8.7 points per game. SMU and Tulsa, two other teams in the region, finished just in front of UNT on the list.

The Mean Green came in at 11th on the offensive side with an improvement of 9.6 points per game. Old Dominion came in three spots ahead of UNT.

That’s a significant jump on both sides of the ball for UNT in its first season under Seth Littrell.

And in other news, TexasHighSchoolFootball.com caught up with Nick Gerber, a quarterback from Levelland who recently picked up an offer from UNT.

The Mean Green are the only team to offer Gerber thus far. Here is his 247 Sports profile.

UNT has one quarterback in its class already in Cade Pearson, a two-star prospect who passed on an offer from Wyoming to commit to UNT.

JUCO prospect Devlin Isadore has told me he will be with the Mean Green in time for spring practice, He expects to receive a scholarship in the fall.

And finally, Will Kuehne, a quarterback from Liberty Christian that UNT has offered, checked in at No. 27 on Lone Star Prospects list of the top 50 pro-style quarterbacks in the Class of 2019.