UNT lost its Conference USA opener tonight 74-64 to Southern Miss at the Super Pit in a game that had a few odd turns down the stretch.
– UNT shot 50 percent from the free throw line in the first half and was an abysmal 12-for-22 for the game.
– The Mean Green allowed Southern Miss to grab offensive rebounds off missed free throws twice in a four-point possession.
– UNT fell behind by 14 in the first half before coming back to close within one on a Maurice Aniefiok 3 in the second half.
And then things really got weird.
Following Aniefiok’s 3, Southern Miss’ Chip Armelin hit a jumper. UNT got the ball back, but Southern Miss forced a turnover. Deonte Houston (a player UNT at least took a look at in recruiting out of Olney (Ill.) Central) picked up the steal.
Vertrail Vaughns grabbed him and was called for an intentional (clear path to the basket) foul. That’s two shots and the ball. The wrong Southern Miss guy went to the line and hit one of two.
I could be wrong on this, but I am almost sure that a Southern Miss player pointed out that officials sent the wrong guy to the line. Officials waived off the two free throws and sent Houston to the line, where he hit them both.
Tony Benford was careful with what he said, but didn’t understand the call (see tomorrow’s paper for more).
UNT (9-6) went down the tubes at that point, going 3:07 without scoring, a time during which Keith Coleman was called for an offensive foul and Southern Miss went on an 11-0 run.
The Mean Green was toast at that point.
It was a tough ending for UNT, but the Mean Green did show a lot of guts to come back. Southern Miss is really good, 14-2 on the year good. UNT could have easily rolled over, but didn’t.
Jordan Williams had a good game with 17 points and Aniefiok added 12.
Kelvin Gaines is still not anywhere close to 100 percent and UNT’s big guys were essentially a big black hole tonight. Colin Voss had four points and four rebounds. Gaines didn’t have a point or a rebound in 11 minutes before he limped off the floor after fouling out. Keith Coleman had four points, five rebounds, three turnovers and also fouled out — and one of his five fouls was a killer offensive foul.
The good news is UNT looked like it belonged while losing what was a close game midway through the second half against what might be the best team in Conference USA.
If UNT continues to improve, it will win some games in conference play.