UNT hoops madness preview and a few notes

North Texas will host its annual preseason basketball event tomorrow at 7 p.m.

This season’s event will mirror the festivities of a year ago and pretty much what one sees around the college basketball world. There will be a 3-point shooting contest, a half-heart scrimmage and a dunk contest.

There isn’t a whole lot one can tell about much of anything from tipoff events, but they are typically a fun affair for fans.

With that being said, here’s what we will be looking for tomorrow.

1. Who’s on first? Or in this case at the point, on the wings, et cetera?

When we last left UNT basketball, Chris Jones was running the point, Alzee Williams was the Mean Green’s second-leading scorer, Brandan Walton and Vertrail Vaughns were key parts of the backcourt rotation and UNT really, really needed some help in the paint.

As far as the women’s team went, Alexis Hyder was on pace to become one of the leading scorers in school history, Laura McCoy was about the smallest rock of stability one could imagine, Briesha Wynn was a steady producer and pretty much everyone else’s knee resembled ground beef.


A lot has changed for both of these teams.

On the men’s side, UNT is hoping an influx of players, including J-Mychal Reese, Muhammed Ahmed and DeAndre Harris will help this team post its first winning season in Year Three under Tony Benford.

The UNT women are banking on a couple of newcomers and the return of the body bag squad (Candice Adams, Acheil Tac and BreAnna Dawkins for starters) of injured players to help the Mean Green break out and post its first winning season since the 2005-06 campaign.

I don’t think anyone has a clue what either of this teams will look like. There is a lot of hoping going on, but there are a whole lot of key players for both teams who have proven exactly bubkus on the Division I level.

Tomorrow could provide at least a small glimpse of what both of UNT’s teams have to work with.

2. Can anyone rebound for the UNT men?

UNT ranked 14th in rebounding margin last season during Conference USA play with a deficit of 2.9.

Jordan Williams, a 6-6 wing guard tied for 18th in C-USA in rebounds in conference play at 6.1 a game to lead UNT.

UNT doesn’t need to have a dominant rebounder with the style it plays, but there is little doubt the Mean Green need to improve overall.

UNT was outrebounded by 14 by UAB, 13 by UTEP and nine by Middle Tennessee last season. And those are just a couple of examples.

If UNT wants to make a move up in the conference this year, it’s going to have to improve. Does UNT have the horses to get it done, especially after jettisoning 6-10 forwards Kelvin Gaines and Keith Coleman, even though they weren’t particularly productive?

We could know more tomorrow.

3. Can anyone shoot the ball for the UNT women?

UNT women’s coach Mike Petersen named 3-point shooting as one of UNT’s biggest concerns this year. UNT lost not only McCoy, but also saw Janis Peterson leave after her junior year to go back to California. Those two players were UNT’s best 3-point shooters.

UNT will have to find someone to replace them, whether they are newcomers or are returning from the body bag squad.

4. Who complements Wynn offensively?

Petersen said he isn’t concerned with UNT’s ability to put the ball in the hole. Wynn can score. She averaged 11.3 points a game, but is the only player who averaged double figures who returns.

Acheil Tac has expanded her game offensively after putting up 8.3 points a game and BreAnna Dawkins averaged 6.5 points a game before being lost for the season with a bad knee injury.

We could see who will carry the scoring load this year.

In a side note …

Hollis, a small forward Mansfield Summit who is ranked No. 51 in the state in the Class of 2016 by TexasHoops.com, will be by UNT’s event tomorrow.


And finally, Davion Freeman, a cornerback from Oklahoma UNT had shown some interest in who we talked to over the summer for our on-going UNT recruiting target series committed to Wyoming.

Five things UNT fans should know about Rice

Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue is stopped short of the goal line by North Texas last season at Apogee Stadium. UNT posted an eight-play goal-line stand against the Owls in a 28-16 win. Rice’s players said this week that they haven’t forgotten that loss heading into a rematch Saturday in Houston. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas will face Rice at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Rice Stadium in Houston. Here’s a quick scouting report of the Owls

Rice: 3-3, 1-1 in Conference USA (Beat Army 41-21 on Oct. 11)

Key number: Three (consecutive games Rice has won, all by at least 14 points, since opening the season with three straight losses while facing a brutal early schedule that included trips to Notre Dame and Texas A&M. The Owls have beaten Southern Miss (41-23), Hawaii (28-14) and Army (41-21)

1. Rice is starting to look as good as it was expected to be at the beginning of the year

Rice was expected to contend for the Conference USA West Division title at the beginning of the season after finishing 10-4 in 2013 and is finally starting to look the part. The Owls have rolled to three straight wins, and none of them have been close. Rice is playing well on both sides of the ball. The Owls have 25 tackles for loss in their last two games combined and are averaging 33.7 points a game in that span. UNT coach Dan McCarney said this week that he can sense from watching Rice on tape that the Owls have confidence and momentum at this point in the season.

2. Rice is out for revenge

UNT posted one of its more memorable wins and moments in recent program history last season when the Mean Green beat Rice at home, 28-16. The loss was Rice’s only setback in Conference USA play and included an eight-play goal-line stand by the Mean Green that was extended by a holding call on the Mean Green in the end zone. The win made UNT bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004. It also provided Rice plenty of motivation for the rematch.

“You can’t forget something like that,” Rice defensive tackles Christian Covington told the Houston Chronicle.

Rice has won nine of its last 10 at home and had a bye last week. The Owls will be ready for UNT, especially coming off a bye week.

3. Rice has one of the better running back duos in C-USA

The Owls have two running backs who combine to average 154 rushing yard a game in Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard, who is averaging 5.5 yards a carry. The pair has helped Rice average 201.2 rushing yards a game behind a solid offensive line featuring Andrew Reue and Matt Simonette, who were both named to Phil Steele’s midseason All-Conference USA team.

UNT allowed 201 rushing yards last week in a loss to Southern Miss, which came into the day averaging 91 yards a game on the ground. Rice will likely look to pound the ball with Davis and Dillard.

4. Rice is getting along fine without Taylor McHargue 

Rice lost the first quarterback in school history to lead the Owls to consecutive bowl berths in Taylor McHargue, but has found what looks like the perfect replacement in Driphus Jackson.

Jackson has thrown for 1,185 yards and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He has thrown for at least 163 yards in each game Rice has played this season and could present a challenge for UNT’s secondary that has struggled at times this season. The Mean Green rank ninth in Conference USA in pass defense with an average of 248.1 yards allowed a game and have given up 15 passing touchdowns. Only Rice (16) and Middle Tennessee (18) have allowed more.

5. Expect to see Bryce Callahan on Carlos Harris

UNT has leaned heavily on Carlos Harris to spark its passing game all season. Harris has 42 caches and 558 receiving yards. No other player on UNT’s roster has more than 12 catches on the year.

Harris caught 15 passes for 216 yards last week in UNT’s loss to Southern Miss. Both totals are career highs.

The former Frisco standout said this week that he expects to spend the day locked up man-to-man with Rice cornerback Bryce Callahan, who was included on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive back.

The way the matchup plays out will have a big impact on the outcome of the game.

McCarney talks about sticking with McNulty long-term

UNT has pondered just about every possible quarterback scenario it seems since Derek Thompson rode off into the sunset following a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. (Actually, he just went across town to coach at Denton High, but that’s besides the point).

UNT turned to JUCO transfer Josh Greer and then Dajon Williams.

It’s Andrew McNulty’s turn now. And judging from what Dan McCarney had to say this week, UNT is open to sticking with McNulty long-term.

“We don’t need to keep moving guys around and changing quarterbacks,” McCarney said. “Who the hell wants that? I don’t. Nobody does. He’s our guy this week and maybe the rest of this season and all of next year if he takes care of the ball and keeps making plays. It’s not like he didn’t make plays. He did make plays. We didn’t make enough, but I was really encouraged, rather than discouraged with the job he did leading our offense.”

McNulty threw for 287 yards in UNT’s 30-20 loss to Southern Miss last week in his second career start and first since 2011. He didn’t turn ball over — not once.

McNulty isn’t flashy, but he knows what he’s doing out there. McCarney told us that. Mike Canales told us that.

UNT’s players said the same things this week.

I know that there is an assumption out there that  some unknown quarterback is going to ride in on a white horse out of nowhere or that Connor Means is going to rip off his redshirt and suddenly become the savior in 2015.

Maybe something like that happens, but the odds are not very good.

That was the hope with a host of guys who showed up and were expected to star the next year, or at least get a crack at it — Greer, Brock Berglund and Woody Wilson to name a few.

That plan of attack has worked out for some schools over the years. Louisiana Tech’s doing just fine with Cody Sokol.

It just never seems to work out for UNT, who nearly always seems to turn to a guy who was on the roster the previous year.

All I’m saying is I wouldn’t discount for a minute that McNulty doesn’t drive the bus effectively and keep right on driving it through the end of next season.

McCarney talks recruiting strategy, recruiting tidbits


Dan McCarney made a couple of key points at his press conference yesterday, including one we haven’t gotten around to yet regarding recruiting.

We made the argument in Monday’s paper that UNT’s three-game losing streak and current 2-5 record raises the question as to why the Mean Green doesn’t seem to be capitalizing on an improved situation.

A part of the argument was that it just doesn’t seem like the top-end recruits are flocking to Denton.

McCarney talked a little bit about his approach in his press conference and in a sense addressed some of the questions we raised.

Rick Villarreal attended for the first time all season that I can recall, which I thought was pretty interesting considering we got some candid comments the previous week. We got more of the standard party line this time.

“We are in the state of Texas,” McCarney said. “If each coach will bring in two to three guys who can play winning football for us based on our schedule and our competition, then we are going to have a hell of a program and we can do that each year. I am not concerned with who brings in the most. Bring in guys we can win with. Then bring in some walk-ons and transfers then you can have a chance to succeed every year.”

McCarney makes a good point. And I completely agree with him.

If each guy on the staff brings in a few good players, a team is in good shape.

I just wonder at times if UNT isn’t missing that ace-in-the-hole kind of guy who brings home the bacon — or in this case, the beef and speed. You hear about those top guys at the top national programs. Alabama has Kirby Smart. Texas A&M has David Beaty.

UNT has had a few of those guys in the past, notably Kenny Evans, the architect of a big portion of the bowl era teams.

Noah Joseph was that guy for UNT for a while. Ryan Walters certainly looked like he was on the way to being that type of guy before Memphis smartly snared him off UNT’s staff.

Mike Grant is doing a good job running the show and UNT does have a couple of potential staff aces in Perry Carter, LaMarcus Hicks and Kevin Patrick.

Those guys are just getting settled at UNT and are names I hear a lot when I talk to guys who are considering playing for the Mean Green.

247 Sports puts out a list of the nation’s top recruiters every year and ranks them by conference as well. It’s a pretty incomplete list at the Conference USA level, but it is interesting because it shows some of the guys Marshall and Southern Miss lean on.

And while we are on the topic of recruiting …

I swapped messages with UNT wide receiver target Jarvis Baxter today. The Trinity Valley College standout is having a monster year. The Vine above is of one of his recent touchdown catches.

Teams are noticing. Lamar and Southern Illinois have offered. Middle Tennessee, UTSA and Southern Miss are showing a lot of interest.

Baxter said UNT remains his top team.

At this point, I would be shocked if he doesn’t end up at UNT.

And finally, I mentioned yesterday that Iowa is making a push for Jerminic Smith, the younger brother of former UNT wide receiver Darnell Smith. The Hawkeyes are talking to Smith every other day according to the Voice of the Hawkeyes, one of the websites that covers the team.


McCarney addresses holding call

Dan McCarney addressed what he thought was a blatantly bad call during UNT’s loss to Southern Miss today.

Yeah, we’re talking about the holding call on Antonio Johnson on what would have been a 52-yard touchdown pass to Antoinne Jimmerson.

After looking at it on film, McCarney emphatically said that it was a clean block all the way.

UNT has turned the tape in to the league office for interpretation.

“We teach it; we coach it,” McCarney said. “We are waiting for an interpretation right now because Antonio Johnson did exactly what we hoped he would do out there in the open field. That was one of the best executed offensive plays we have had all year.”

In some instances, holding calls are in the eye of the beholder. Johnson was making a block down the field against a defender in open space. We watched the replay in the press box and the call on TV. The announcers said they thought it was a hold.

I knew immediately when the flag came out that was going to be the call.

I definitely think McCarney has a point. Jimmerson is in the clear no matter what. All Johnson has to do is get in the way.

Did Johnson have his hands on the outside of the defender’s shoulder pads, drawing the flag? That’s the only thing that makes sense and is likely what the official saw.

The call just seems like another bad break in a long line of them in a tough season for UNT.

And in a side note, Phil Steele’s put out its midway All-Conference USA team. Derek Akunne, Chad Polk and Cyril Lemon all made the team.

UNT press conference notes

Andrew McNulty will make his second straight start at quarterback for UNT on Saturday when the Mean Green travel to Houston to take on a surging Rice team that has won three straight.

UNT coach Dan McCarney made the announcement at his Monday press conference following a 30-20 loss to Southern Miss on Saturday, the Mean Green’s third straight setback.

McNulty had his moments against  Southern Miss last week and made a big enough impression to hang on to the job for another week. The Iowa native threw for 287 yards while not turning the ball over.

That made a big impression of McCarney, who saw his team turned the ball over seven times in its previous two games. McNulty is the third player to start at quarterback for UNT this year, following Josh Greer and Dajon Williams, who each started three games.

The quarterback announcement was the highlight of the press conference, but there were several other items of note, including …

– UNT wide receiver Carlos Harris was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Southern Miss. He caught 15 passes for 216 yards.

– Running back Jeffrey Wilson, who carried the ball twice in UNT’s lost to Southern Miss, should be back at 100 percent this week, which will strengthen the Mean Green’s running back rotation.

– UNT could also have starting safety Sheldon Wade, key backup cornerback Zac Whitfield and backup defensive end Tillman Johnson back this week. UNT will find out for sure in the next 24 hours.

– Defensive tackle Dutton Watson is having ankle surgery and might be back for the end of the year, but will be out for a while.

– McCarney said that he doesn’t see any effort issues with his team that has now lost three straight games and at 2-5 is up against the wall in terms of reaching the six-win mark to become bowl-eligible.

– UNT will turn the tape of a holding call on Antonio Johnson that brought back what would have been a 52-yard touchdown pass on a short ball to running back Antoinne Jimmerson in the second half into the league office. McCarney said Johnson did exactly what UNT’s coaches teach. From the replay on television in the press box, it looked like officials called Johnson for the hold after seeing his hands on the outside of the defender’s shoulder pads while pushing him downfield. It’s a moot point now, but we could hear sometime in the next few days what league office says.

– And from Barry Horn at the DMN, the UNT-Southern Miss game had a high TV rating than the Texas Tech-Kansas State game.


“I haven’t sensed any loyalty issues. I haven’t sensed any selfishness issues. I haven’t sensed any effort issues when you watch our team. Those things are really good when you watch a team as a head coach. We have to keep moving forward and get better at some things that will help us get over the hump and win some games.”

– UNT coach Dan McCarney, whose team

“I am really proud of Andy McNulty. He will start again if he practices well this week. He was 20 out of 35 and had 287 yards and zero turnovers after we had seven turnovers the previous two weeks. We had 70 more yards on the field with drops and the touchdown that was called back.”

– McCarney

“It was a great experience for me. I have had a lot of learning experiences since I’ve been here being behind [former UNT quarterback] Derek Thompson and going through the start of this season. I used those to help me improve my game.”

– McNulty on his third career start and second of the season last week against Southern Miss.

Sunday leftovers, UNT salvages weekend (recruiting tidbit)

It’s time for your weekly Sunday leftovers, where we hit on some of the news of the weekend and go over the highs and the lows of what went down in the land of the Mean Green.

First off, it looks like the guys at over at 247Sports will have an update tomorrow on Jerminic Smith, the younger brother of Darnell Smith, a former UNT wide receiver who walked on and was a pretty key contributor to last season’s Heart of Dallas Bowl team.

From the sounds of it, Smith has a lot of interest in Iowa.

UNT could pull this one out, but the odds seem long. Texas Tech is also in the picture.

The disheartening thing about it for UNT is that it has already seen both of the younger brothers of former Mean Green great Zach Orr decide to go elsewhere. Nick Orr has played in every game for TCU and has an interception and a tackle this year. Chris Orr is headed to Wisconsin.

It would be nice to land Smith and not end up 0-for-3 on younger brothers of bowl team members.

The problem is all three are Power 5-level prospects. Then again, those are the kind of guys who could really make a difference for UNT.

As far as the weekend goes, we have hashed and rehashed the UNT football team’s 30-20 loss to Southern Miss.

It really looked like things were going to go down the drain when both the UNT soccer and volleyball teams lost as well in their first games of the weekend.

The good news is the UNT volleyball team rebound from a loss to Charlotte that extended its losing streak to three matches to beat hapless Louisiana Tech 3-0 to even its C-USA record at 4-4. Louisiana Tech is now 0-8 in league play. That win left UNT in seventh place in the league standings. Eight teams make the conference tournament.

The UNT soccer team also lost a game this weekend, falling to Florida Atlantic, 2-0, before bouncing back to beat Florida International 2-1.

UNT is in first place in the conference standings at 5-1-1 with three games left. Win out and the soccer crew becomes the first UNT program to win a C-USA title. Our money was on John Hedlund’s team to win that first title all along. UNT came up just short last year, falling in the conference tournament final to Colorado College.

The UNT soccer team finished second to Colorado College in the regular season as well.

Rickey Brice talks about his visit to UNT

UNT coach Tony Benford has told his players repeatedly throughout the preseason that they would have to rebound by committee this year due to a lack of a conventionally sized college big man.

He reiterated that point again on Saturday, when Rickey Brice, a player who could change that, spent the day touring campus on an official visit.

The Arlington Pantego Christian Academy standout checks in at an even 7 feet and is one of the more highly recruited players in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

UNT has made Brice a recruiting priority and caught his attention. Brice has been to UNT three times already in the last few months.

Benford and his staff officially offered Brice a scholarship on Wednesday before hosting him for the weekend.

“I am big on family,” Brice said Saturday. “I like brotherhood and want to go somewhere I will have a good bond with my teammates.”

Brice feels like he might have found what he is looking for at UNT. Members of the Mean Green’s staff have checked in on Brice regularly over the last few weeks.

Brice’s parents accompanied him on his official visit and were at UNT’s practice on Saturday morning.

“I am leaning toward signing with North Texas,” Brice said.

Texas State is among the teams that jumped into the race to land Brice early on.

Brice said he has also received offers from USC, UCLA, Texas, Oklahoma State, Temple, St. Louis and Texas Tech.

While UNT is leading for Brice’s services at this point, he said he could wait until next year to finalize his decision.

Brice would be a key addition to UNT’s 2015 recruiting class. TexasHoops.com rates Brice at No. 23 on its list of the top players in the state in the Class of 2015.

Brice averaged 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a junior last season for Pantego Christian.

UNT has already picked up a commitment from Ja’Michael Brown, a guard who will play the upcoming season at Pro-Vision Academy.

Brown is ranked as the 37th-best player in the state by TexasHoops.com.

Five quick thoughts (updated)

Now that I have had a chance to file all my stories, stat boxes and various other material for two papers and make the trek home, here are five quick (and now expanded) thoughts after UNT’s 30-20 loss to Southern Miss at Apogee Stadium:

1. The move to McNulty seemed to pay off

UNT turned to Andrew McNulty at quarterback, its third starter this season. The move seemed like it came out of desperation to a certain degree after Josh Greer and Dajon Williams didn’t prove to be the right fit for UNT’s offense. McNulty drove the bus effectively. He didn’t make many mistakes, which is what coach Dan McCarney wants.

Yeah, UNT only managed 20 points against the Golden Eagles. That’s not great. But haven’t we gotten to the point where we know great isn’t magically going to appear out of left field?

UNT scored 21 points last week and had three turnovers (a fumble and two interceptions returned for touchdowns). That equates to a 0-0 wash. Dajon Williams threw two interceptions in UNT’s loss to Indiana.

Dan McCarney said there were some positives to in the way McNulty played and that he isn’t going to put a quarterback on the field if he turns the ball over.

McNulty did what he was asked to do. In that regard, the move paid dividends.

2. Carlos Harris continues to shine, but UNT leans on him too much

Carlos Harris had another monster night for UNT and finished with career highs in catches with 15 and yards with 216. He’s a great player, but UNT needs some other threats to emerge. Four other players combined for five catches. That just isn’t going to cut it.

3. UNT’s defense just isn’t what it was

UNT had a terrific defense last year when the Mean Green ranked among the nation’s leaders in several categories. The Mean Green just aren’t the same this year. There are no two ways about it. Southern Miss was able to run the ball effectively against UNT all night. The Golden Eagles have struggled offensively all season.

Granted, Southern Miss has shown signs of coming on and scored 31 points last week. And yes, the Golden Eagles totals are skewed by a 49-0 loss to Mississippi State and a 52-12 loss to Alabama, a couple of national powers, but the bottom line is Southern Miss was averaging 18.8 points a game and 91.0 rushing yards a game.

Southern Miss torched UNT for 30 points, 201 rushing yards and 506 total yards.

UNT just doesn’t seem to have the horses this year. We knew UNT would miss some of the key guys from last year, including Zach Orr and Marcus Trice, but no one saw this coming.

4. UNT is giving up too many key plays in big spots

Good teams make the key plays when they have to. UNT is struggling in that regard. Southern Miss converted a fake punt in a key spot and made a host of big plays when it had to in order to win. UNT just isn’t making the big plays it did a year ago.

That fake punt that helped extend a drive the resulted in a touchdown that put Southern Miss up 20-13 early in the third quarter was a killer. Southern Miss called it in a perfect spot and had punter Tyler Sarazin convert on an 11-yard run on fourth-and-9.

Southern Miss didn’t have a lot of plays that covered a ton of yards, but seemed to convert in key spots. The Golden Eagles converted on seven of their 13 third downs on the night.

5. UNT’s bowl hopes are nearly gone

It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that UNT somehow finds a way to rally back from a 2-5 start to win six games, the minimum it needs to get to a bowl game. The chances seem pretty slim at this point though. UNT might have to wait until next year to get back to the postseason.

Derek Akunne said UNT could still get there. McCarney said he wouldn’t look past UNT’s next game.

There is little doubt things look bleak now, though.

UNT-Southern Miss preview, running blog

UNT will kick off its game against Southern Miss here at Apogee Stadium shortly.

The Mean Green come into this one riding a two-game losing streak and are on the verge of reaching a series of dubious milestones if they can’t snap their slide today. UNT hasn’t lost three straight games under Dan McCarney since the first three games of his tenure with the Mean Green.

UNT has never lost three straight conference games under McCarney.

We said earlier in the week that career backup Andrew McNulty could make his first start since his his freshman season back in 2011. McNulty started in place of his good friend Derek Thompson in a 41-24 loss after Thompson was injured in the days leading up to the game.

Now it’s official …

McNulty has been the guy UNT has brought off the bench in case of emergency ever since. McNulty threw for 167 yards after replacing Dajon Williams late in the second half of last week’s loss to UAB.

That performance was enough to earn him a shot to lead UNT out of its funk today.

McNulty is a dual-threat quarterback like Williams. He just isn’t as big and doesn’t have the big arm Williams does. He will be the third quarterback to start for UNT this year, following Josh Greer, who started the first three games, and Williams who started the last three.

The feeling is that McNulty is a player who won’t kill UNT with mistakes and turnovers. Williams made a ton of mistakes against UAB and had two interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

UNT will likely try to pound the ball up the middle and not ask McNulty to win the game.

Stay tuned, we will update the blog all day.

5:34 — UNT is pretty beaten up. I am waiting for official list of guys who will not play, but I can see Zac Whitfield down on the field in shorts. Safety Sheldon Wade is also out. Lairamie Lee is out there with UNT’s starting defense and looks like he will be back this week.

5:37 — There are a ton of recruits here for today’s game. They are making their way into the stands now.

5:47 — UNT will also be without backup defensive end Tillman Johnson. UNT is going to be a little shorthanded across the board defensively.

5:56 — I’m not the best judge of crowd size, but it does seem pretty empty in Apogee today. There are about three half full sections of the student section across the way. The hill where most students hang out before coming into the game also seems pretty empty.

5:58 — Here is a link to my advance for today’s game in case you missed it.

Kickoff — Southern Miss won the toss and deferred. UNT will have the ball to start the game. Here comes Mac and Mac — Dan McCarney (coach) and Andrew McNulty (quarterback).

13:35 — UNT moved the ball and picked up a couple of first downs on its first drive, but elected to punt on fourth-and-1 and just missed getting to the ball to down it. USM has the ball at the 20.

11:43 — USM is on the board. Michael Thomas caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Nick Mullens. The killer play on the drive was a face mask penalty on Sir Calvin Wallace on third down when UNT had made the stop.

10:46 — We are in a review of a pass play from Andrew McNulty to Darvin Kidsy that gave UNT a first down on third-and-3. It looked like a good catch to me.

11:00 — There is bad break there for UNT. Officials had a better look at the play and ruled that Darvin Kidsy dropped what would have been a 10-yard pass that would have given UNT a first down. USM has the ball at its 37-yard line.

6:45 — UNT came up with a huge play defensively on USM’s last possession. Kishawn McClain intercepted a ball after USM had driven to the Mean Green’s 35. The Golden Eagles looked like they were about to tag on to their lead. That was a huge play. UNT had to punt it away after the turnovers

1:24 — USM has tacked on a 38-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead. Derek Akunne made a great stop on a quarterback draw on third down to prevent the Golden Eagles from extending that drive.

End of the first quarter — UNT is down 10-0, but has the ball at the USM 20 after Carlos Harris caught a 45-yard pass from Andrew McNulty on a double move. McNulty had forever back there in the pocket.

14:29 — UNT is on the board. Antoinne Jimmerson pushed his way in from two yards out. McNulty hit Carlos Harris for a 45-yard gain to spark that drive. UNT has pulled to within 10-7.

10:23 — UNT has come up with another big turnover. Lairamie Lee intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone. That is the second turnover UNT has forced.

6:14 — UNT has tied the game at 10-10 on a 36-yard Trevor Moore field goal. The Mean Green were in a tough spot there after going down 10-0, but have righted the ship here a bit.

4:21 — UNT came up with a big stop there. Southern Miss went three-and-out. UNT will have the ball back at its 40-yard line with 4:02 left in the half.

1:50 — UNT has driven to the USM 7-yard line. It’s third-and-goal. USM just called a timeout.

Halftime — Catching up here. UNT and USM traded field goals late in the first half. UNT settled for a Trevor Moore 24-yard field goal on its last possession of the first half. USM answered with a 10-play drive that Corey Acosta capped with a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half. It’s 13-13. The key to the first half was two turnovers UNT forced, both deep in its own end of the field. USM reached UNT’s 35 before Kishawn McClain intercepted a Nick Mullens pass. Lairamie Lee intercepted a second Mullens pass after USM reached the Mean Green’s 8-yard line on another possession.

14:55 — USM has the ball at its 23-yard line to start the second half.

12:17 — USM has regained the lead on a 5-yard George Payne run. The key play on that drive was a perfectly executed fake punt on fourth-and-9. The punter carried it right up the middle for 12 yards.

6:08 — UNT has tied it back up at 20-20 on a Reggie Pegram 27-yard run. UNT converted two key third downs on that drive on a passes that covered 27 and 12 yards to Carlos Harris. Southern Miss just doesn’t have an answer for Harris.

1:43 — USM has gone back up on a Nick Mullens pass. The Golden Eagles are up 27-20.

:45 — UNT had to punt it away. USM has the ball at the UNT 49-yard line. UNT needs a stop here.

Start of the fourth quarter — UNT is down 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter. USM has the ball at the UNT 41-yard line and is looking to open up a little breathing room.

12:01 — UNT is now down 30-20 after USM tacked on a field goal to go up two scores. USM had great field position at UNT’s 48-yard line to start that drive.

8:29 — UNT has driven down the field, but has stalled out at the USM 16-yard line. Carlos Harris is down. UNT will go for the field goal.

8:07 — That was a killer right there. A low snap seemed to throw Trevor Moore off. He pushed a 33-yard field goal wide left. UNT is down 30-20 and needs two scores. USM has the ball and is going to run it every chance it gets now.

I’m headed down. I will be back.