Friday afternoon basketball notes

North Texas point guard Chris Jones drives around Arkansas-Little Rock forward Will Neighbour last season at the Super Pit. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT is holding out hope that Chris Jones will be back by the end of the season, Tony Benford said today when I stopped by practice. Jones broke his foot in UNT’s loss to Western Kentucky on Dec. 29 and hasn’t played since.

Jones started running in a pool today. That step is a long way from being ready to take over as UNT’s starter at the point again, but it is a step in the right direction.

UNT put a terrific note in its game notes this week. UNT averaged 68.2 points in the 13 games Jones played in this year, a total that drops to 63.8 points a game in the 12 games he has missed.

UNT has really gotten better in halfcourt situations in terms of looking like it has a plan and something it is running late in the season. You wonder if UNT would look even better if Jones was out there now that the Mean Green has made that adjustment.

Benford mentioned that Jones is a much bigger offensive threat than P.J. Hardwick, a pass-first guard. Jones averages 10.2 points a game. Hardwick comes in at 3.3 points a game.

“PJ is doing a great job, but teams are playing four on five because they know he is reluctant to shoot the ball,” Benford said. “Teams are playing off of him.”

Brandan Walton, the shooter UNT has really missed this season, was cleared by team doctors this week. He was moving around pretty well and shooting before practice today. He’s taking a redshirt and will be back next year.

On the women’s front, I thought Mike Petersen made a really good point today (he usually does). Petersen mentioned at UNT has been terrible in February. I went back and counted and UNT was 1-11 in February in the two years before he arrived combined, including a 1-6 mark last year.

UNT is 1-1 this year with its big win at Arkansas State.

There is nowhere to go but up.

UNT played pretty poorly in its last outing, when it was blasted by Western Kentucky 76-62. a performance that makes the Mean Green’s game today against FIU even bigger.

“It becomes an important game because of seeding and the division,” Petersen said. “It’s also important because there is no a person in our program who was happy with the way we played Thursday. We need to come out and make sure we play the right way on Saturday.”

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