UNT to renew rivalry with UTA

North Texas guard Chris Jones (5) drives as UTA guard Cameron Catlett defends on Nov. 28, 2012, at The Super Pit. UNT and UTA announced Friday that they will resume their longstanding series in the 2015-16 season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas’ on-again, off-again rivalry with UTA in men’s basketball is back on.

The schools announced Friday (UNT release, UTA release) that their series will resume in the 2015-16 campaign.

UNT will travel to College Park Center in 2015-16 for a game that was originally scheduled for the 2013-14 season. The game was postponed due to a scheduling conflict that season, when UNT was slated to play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Benford

The schools then agreed to an additional home-and-home series that will bring the Mavericks to the Super Pit in 2016-17, followed by a return trip to Arlington in 2017-18.

“I’d like to thank Jim Baker and Scott Cross for helping us make this change in the schedule possible, so we can continue this great local series,” UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said in a prepared statement. “I’m excited that we extended this rivalry another two years, with the first game taking place at the Super Pit in 2016.”

The teams first played in 1925 and were members of the Southland Conference from 1983-96. UNT leads the all-time series 30-23. The teams have split their last four matchups with UTA winning handily in each of the last two meetings. The Mavericks beat the Mean Green 72-59 at the Super Pit in the 2012-13 season a year after rolling to a 97-64 win in the 2011-12 campaign.

“We’re extremely excited to renew our series with North Texas,” UTA athletic director Jim Baker said. “Playing a regional schedule of natural rivals is a positive for our program, our student-athletes and our fans. North Texas has been a great partner over the years. I would like to thank Rick Villarreal for his support throughout this process.”

UNT officials believe the familiarity the programs and the players have with each other will add to the excitement surrounding the series.

“We are very excited to have UT Arlington on the schedule for the next few seasons, “UNT coach Tony Benford said. “I have a lot of respect for Scott Cross and the tremendous job he has done with his program. Many of our players have grown up playing with and against each other, and we really enjoy creating rivalries with quality local teams that our fans are very familiar with. This year’s non-conference schedule includes Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech, and in the coming years we would love to include TCU and SMU as well.”

The two programs played every season from 2006-07 to 2012-13.

“North Texas has traditionally been a big rival for UTA fans and students,” Cross said. “Coach Benford does a great job and I know he wanted to get the series going again. They have a very talented team, so it should be a great game. We hope to sell out College Park Center in that first game.”

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