UNT ended up sweeping its hoops doubleheader today. The UNT men beat Cal Riverside 76-72 after nearly blowing a 16-point second half lead, while the UNT women — well, what was left of them — beat Cameron 69-41.
Both teams start Conference USA play next week. Both really needed the win.
Style points are not a huge concern at the moment.
The UNT men have recovered from being curb stomped by Stephen F. Austin to win four straight to get to 9-5. Tony Benford said that he has heard the questions people have brought up in regards to UNT’s schedule. Not exactly an RPI-builder, but Benford believes the slate has gotten UNT ready for conference play.
With UNT making the jump to C-USA, the Mean Green needed Ws and got another one thanks largely to Brandan Walton and Maurice Aniefiok scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench.
UNT darn near blew it, but Aniefiok made a few key plays down the stretch.
UNT gets Southern Miss next week in its league opener. UNT will find out pretty quickly if it can be competitive in C-USA after that game. The Golden Eagles might be the league’s best team.
The UNT women were without Alexis Hyder and Acheil Tac due to injury. Laura McCoy has the flu. And don’t forget BreAnna Dawkins is out for the year with a knee injury. The Mean Green won without them, thanks to some solid play off the bench from Ash’Lynne Evans (15 points, 12 boards), Eboniey Jeter (10 points) and Hannah Christian (six points, six assists).
UNT should have Hyder, Tac and McCoy back for its game at Middle Tennessee to start conference play. MTSU has been to five straight NCAA tournaments and won 10 straight against UNT, including the epic beatdowns of the Shanice Stephens era when UNT’s former head coach got under the Blue Raiders skin. MTSU Rick Insell responded by handing the Mean Green some of the worst losses in school history.
UNT nearly beat the Blue Raiders not too long ago with Mike Petersen in charge. It will be interesting to see if UNT can hang this time around. It will help if UNT can have McCoy back. Candice Adams has taken over as UNT’s starting point guard, but MTSU presses from tip to buzzer. UNT could use an extra ball handler who has faced that press before.
The bottom line is both teams appear to be headed into C-USA play on a positive note. There is something to be said for that.