Late night hoops rewind: Idaho 65, UNT 63

Final: Idaho 65, UNT 63

Where UNT stands: UNT lost its first game of the season and fell to 2-1 on the year with both of its wins coming against NAIA teams.

Now what?: The Mean Green will continue their season today in a 7:30 p.m. game against Samford



Star of the day: Jeremy Combs posted double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The sophomore was terrific when he had opportunities to score around the basket and also hit a few jumpers. The only problem was he continued to struggle from the free-throw line, where he made just two of his six attempts. Combs missed two key free throws in the final minute when Idaho pulled out the win.

Say what?

“We still had a chance at the end, despite how poorly we played. We have to do the little things to finish games. This is part of the process.”

– Tony Benford, UNT head coach

Our take: UNT was in position to close out its game against Idaho when it led 63-59 with 2:19 left, but didn’t score the rest of the way. The Mean Green were prone to the ill-timed drought last year, a problem they hoped to fix with the addition of a few key recruits in the offseason.

A charge call on J-Mychal Reese that could have also been called a block didn’t help matters, but the Mean Green still had plenty of chances to find a way to close the game out.

UNT built some excitement with a pair of runaways over NAIA tams to open the season. Tonight’s loss might have sapped some of the momentum the Mean Green picked up in those games.

Five things UNT fans should know about UTEP

UTEP kicker Jay Mattox, right, reacts after missing the potential game-winning field goal as the game against Louisiana Tech reached the end moments Saturday. Louisiana Tech's Bryson Abraham, background, signals the kick was not good. Holder Alan Luna is at left. (Victor Calzada/El Paso Times)

UTEP kicker Jay Mattox, right, reacts after missing the potential game-winning field goal as the game against Louisiana Tech reached the end moments Saturday. Louisiana Tech’s Bryson Abraham, background, signals the kick was not good. Holder Alan Luna is at left. (Victor Calzada/El Paso Times)

UNT will close its season on Saturday with a home game against UTEP. The Mean Green are 1-10 and are trying to avoid becoming  just the second team in program history to lose 11 games in a season. Here are five things UNT fans should know about UTEP:

1. UTEP is a little different without running back Aaron Jones

UTEP lost star running back Aaron Jones to an ankle injury early in the season. UNT interim coach Mike Canales said the Miners have been a different team offensively ever since. UTEP was a run-first team last season behind Jones, but is averaging just 144.2 rushing yards a game this year, a total that ranks 11th out of 13 teams in Conference USA.

2. UTEP lost a heart-breaker to Louisiana Tech last week

Jay Mattox misssed a potential game-winning field goal in a 17-15 loss to Louisiana Tech last week. The loss eliminated UTEP from bowl contention. The question now is how the Miners will react in their game against UNT.

3. UTEP has changed quarterbacks

The Minters lost Mack Leftwich for the season due to injury and have turned to Ryan Metz to fill the void. Metz has thrown for 874 yards and six touchdowns this season. UTEP played both Metz and Kavika Johnson last week in its loss to Louisiana Tech.

4. Jones is a playmaker on UTEP’s defense

Sophomore linebacker Alvin Jones has 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season, totals that make him one of the more productive defensive players in Conference USA this season.

5. UTEP has a huge offensive line again this year

One of the reasons UTEP was able to run over UNT last year in El Paso was a huge offensive line that controlled the game in the Miners’ 35-17 win. UTEP rushed for 351 yards and has five starting offensive linemen who weigh at least 300 pounds this year.


UNT-Idaho running blog

UNT will play its first game against a Division I opponent tonight at the Super Pit. Idaho is in town for the Mean Green Challenge.

The Mean Green have run over a pair of over matched Division III opponents so far this season and looked good doing it, which makes sense. They are DIII teams.

We could find out a little more about how good UNT really is tonight. Idaho is 2-1 on the season.

The one bit of news heading into the game is that UNT will be without freshman center Rickey Brice Jr., who is out with a sprained ankle. The Mean Green are a little deeper in the post this year, so that shouldn’t be a killer.

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs leads UNT with an average of 21 points a game.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog all night.

14:28 — UNT and Idaho are all tied up at 6-6 at the first media timeout. Jeremy Combs has all of UNT points. UNT was up 4-0 before Idaho went on a 6-0 run. Idaho has a 6-2 edge on the glass.

11:44 — UNT is down 11-8 about midway through the first half. Jeremy Combs has six points for the Mean Green. Idaho will have the ball out of this timeout.

7:52 — UNT is down 17-15 at the under-8 timeout. Deckie Johnson hit a big 3 for UNT after it went down five. Idaho has scored seven of its points at the line. Jeremy Combs has six points for UNT, while J-Mychal Reese has four.

3:48 — UNT is down 26-20 late in the first half. Jeremy Combs has seven points for UNT. Idaho is headed to the line out of this timeout. The Mean Green have hit just one of their seven 3-point attempts.

2:25 — UNT is on a 7-0 run and has pulled to within 28-27. Idaho just called a timeout. J-Mychal Reese hit a 3 to spark the run.

Halftime — We are all tied up at 32-32 at halftime of UNT’s game against Idaho. J-Mychal Reese and Jeremy Combs both have nine points for UNT. The Mean Green went on a 12-2 run late in the half to erase an eight-point deficit and appeared as if they might take a lead into halftime. Idaho drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws to tie it up heading into halftime. Idaho scored its last eight points of the half on free throws.

15:59 — Idaho has pulled out to a 39-35 lead early in the second half. The Vandals went on a 7-0 run after UNT took a two-point lead on a Jeremy Combs basket. Combs has 12 points for UNT.

13:05 — Ja’Michael Brown is down for UNT. It looks like he injured his left ankle.

11:42 — UNT is on a 13-0 run and has taken a 51-42 lead midway through the second half. The Mean Green have hit three 3s in this run, the last of them from Deckie Johnson. Idaho just called a timeout. Jeremy Combs has 12 points for UNT.

11:28 — There was a short turnaround between the Idaho timeout and the media timeout. Idaho is headed to the line after this timeout.

8:25 — UNT is up 55-50 and just took a timeout. Jeremy Combs scored UNT’s last points on a put-back dunk. Combs has 14 points and is one of four players in double figures for UNT. Idaho was within three.

5:57 — UNT is up 55-52 and just took a timeout after getting caught in the backcourt to avoid a 10-second call or a turnover. Idaho is working its way back into this.

3:58 — UNT is up 59-54 in a low-scoring game here at the Super Pit. Jeremy Combs has 14 points for the Mean Green. UNT should be able to close this one out.

1:17 — Idaho has come back to take a 64-63 lead on a huge 3 from Perrion Callandret. UNT just called a a timeout.

Final — UNT falls 65-63 to Idaho. The Vandals went just 1-for-8 from the line in the closing seconds, but UNT was called for a charge missed two free throws and came up empty on the rest of its key possessions late.

Canales bids farewell to UNT in press conference



Mike Canales held his final press conference as North Texas’ interim coach today in advance of Saturday’s game against UTEP. Canales has taken over UNT’s program twice after the school fired its head coach.

This time around, UNT asked Canales to coach the team for its final seven games of the season after the dismissal of Dan McCarney. UNT has struggled while winning just one of its six games under Canales while falling to 1-10, but the Mean Green’s longtime offensive coordinator has rallied UNT’s players who have performed better late in the season.

Canales also took over in 2010 after UNT officials fired Todd Dodge. Canales was a candidate to take over as UNT’s coach in 2010, but is expected to leave UNT’s staff after Saturday.

The following is the statement Canales read at the end of his press conference:

“In the face of adversity, the most challenging season of my 30-year career, I look forward to this last week as North Texas’ head coach, not because the season is over, but because I believe we can win and send our seniors out in their last game as winners.

I believe I have represented our university, our program with integrity and character required of this position. I have given so much to this university and received so much in return.

I will always remember the 2013 season, Heart of Dallas Bowl victory and the 35,000 screaming Mean Green fans and seeing the sea of green. That was pretty special. It will go down as one of my favorite coaching memories.

I will also cherish our victory over UTSA this season. There is a rivalry. There is no greater joy for a coach than to see his team celebrate a victory in the most difficult situation.

I will take many things with me from my six years here at North Texas. I have made many friends and I will never forget the support you gave me. I would like to thank the media for being fair and professional in your coverage of the Mean Green football program and Mike Canales. I would also like to thank the Mean Green Nation for your support of our players.

I believe in my heart the Mean Green program will be back stronger than ever in the near future. I look forward to Saturday with a heavy heart, but I can walk away with my head held high for I will forever know how special North Texas and Denton have been in my life and my coaching career.

I wish the Mean Green Nation a happy Thanksgiving and I want you to know how blessed I am to have been a part of this program.”

Thank you.


Chalk talk: Idaho at UNT

Idaho at UNT

When: 7;30 p.m. Monday

Where: Super Pit, Denton

Radio: KHYI-FM 95.3, KNTU-FM 88.1

Records: North Texas 2-0, Idaho 2-1

Last game: UNT 110, Texas College 61

Projected UNT starting lineup:

PG: J-Mychal Reese, 6-2, Jr. — Reese is averaging 12.0 points and 6.0 assists a game. He has turned the ball over eight times in two games, but is off to a great start in his first season playing after sitting out last season as a transfer from Texas A&M.

SG: Deckie Johnson, 6-4 Jr. — Johnson is averaging 13.0 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. He has hit four of his 10 shots from behind the 3-point arc.

SF: Allante Holston, 6-7 Fr. — Holston has been remarkably efficient while averaging 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds a game. He has taken just seven shots from the floor this year.

F: Jeremy Combs, 6-7, So. — Combs has stepped up his offensive game this season and is averaging 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. He is still struggling from the free throw line, where he has hit just six of his 15 attempts, but has been good overall.

F: Khalil Fuller, 6-8, Fr. — Fuller is off to a good start to his freshman season while averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. He has hit seven of his 12 field goal attempts on the year.

Scouting Idaho:

Idaho lost all but one of its starters from last season and has rebuilt around a group of transfers. Victor Sanders, one of Idaho’s few key returning players, is averaging 15.3 points a game for the Vandals, who are allowing just 60.3 points through their first three games.

Who’s hot:

Combs has been terrific through UNT’s first two games. The sophomore has hit 18 of his 26 field goal attempts while posting 24 and 18 points in the Mean Green’s first two games. He is also averaging 8.5 rebounds a game.

What you need to know:

UNT set up its schedule to help ease seven scholarship players who are seeing the floor for the first time into their roles. The Mean Green played a pair of NAIA teams to start and will now see the competition improve with their game against Idaho.

The game is UNT’s second in the Mean Green Challenge and its first of three in three days, a series that also includes games against Samford and Troy. Idaho is a solid team that trounced San Jose State in its opener. The Vandals are a good defensive team that is allowing just 60.3 points a game.

The Mean Green will have a better idea of what they have as a team this season after tonight’s game.

The Sunday leftovers following a tough weekend for UNT

It’s Sunday night and time for the leftovers, where we pick through the events of the weekend, reheat the good stuff — as well as some of the bad — while hopefully putting it all in perspective.

It was a tough weekend overall for UNT. To review …

– The UNT football team was blasted by Middle Tennessee 41-7 and fell to 1-10 on the year, joining a very short list of five teams that have lost at least 10 games in a season in the history of the program. The Mean Green will close the year at home against UTEP and will have to win to avoid tying the 2008 team for the most losses in a single season with 11. UNT came in as the unanimous worst team in Texas in this week’s Dallas Morning News Best in Texas Poll (I’m one of the voters).

– UNT is also still in the midst of its search for a new football coach. We learned today that the school can scratch Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles from its list of candidates. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said he is not a candidate for the job earlier this month.

– The Conference USA volleyball tournament was also this weekend. UNT was swept in the semifinals by Western Kentucky, bringing Carnae Dillard’s career to an end. Dillard is arguably the best player in program history and a sure UNT Hall of Famer. The Mean Green never won a conference title or made the NCAA tournament during Dillard’s career, which is a tough reality for the Mean Green to face. UNT enjoyed a lot of success in her time, but she was so good, the Mean Green would have liked to have capitalized with an NCAA bid.



Per John Werner: Briles not interested in UNT job

Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is not interested in North Texas’ opening for a coach. Briles’ resume was included among those provided the Denton Record-Chronicle in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for resumes and applications submitted after the job was posted.

Briles told John Werner, who covers Baylor for Waco Tribune-Herald on Sunday morning that is not interested in the job.

Briles fit the parameters of what UNT is looking for in a new coach. UNT wants a younger, offensive-minded coach who has Texas ties and would appeal to Texas high school players.

Briles is the second Big 12 offensive coordinator to publicly say he has no interest in the position.

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley denied he has any interest in the opening after his name came up in connection with the position earlier this month.

UNT is looking for a replacement for Dan McCarney, who was fired five games into his fifth season with the Mean Green.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said shortly after parting ways with McCarney that he would like to have a new coach in place shortly after the end of the season to allow him time to assemble a staff and recruit.

UNT will continue its search heading into its last game of the season on Saturday at home against UTEP. The Mean Green fell to Middle Tennessee 41-7 on Saturday.

UNT is 1-10 and has posted a losing record in 10 of their last 11 seasons.

Five quick thoughts following UNT’s loss to MTSU

UNT hit double-digits in losses for the the fourth time in the last nine years on Saturday with a loss to Middle Tennessee. Here are five quick thoughts (I will update them later):

1. The way this season is going shows how far UNT has to go

All six of UNT’s losses in Conference USA play have come by double digits. The Mean Green didn’t get many breaks in terms of its schedule and have had to face a number of teams that will finish in the top half of the conference. UNT lost the majority of those games in lopsided fashion and is now 1-10 on the season.

2. UNT just can’t seemed to get anything going offensively

MTSU held UNT in check all night. The Mean Green scored an early touchdown, but didn’t get much going the rest of the day. UNT just hasn’t been effective enough in the passing game to balance its running game.

3. UNT’s defensive outing against Tennessee was a mirage

UNT came up with one of its best defensive outings of the season last week in a loss to Tennessee. The question after that 24-0 loss to the Volunteers was if the Mean Green were on the rise. That certainly appeared to be the case against MTSU, which blitzed UNT early and led 31-7 at halftime.

4. One has to wonder if this doesn’t give coaches pause

UNT has really struggled, which could case potential replacements for Dan McCarney to consider how hard it will be to turn the program around.

5. UNT needs playmakers like MTSU features

MTSU has a terrific young quarterback in Brent Stockstill, who torched UNT for 300 yards. If the Mean Green are going to improve, they are going to have to start finding players to rival those teams like MTSU and others in C-USA feature.

I am headed down. Check back for my five quick thoughts.,

UNT-MTSU running blog

UNT will kick off its game against Middle Tennessee here in a few minutes at Floyd Stadium.

I have spent the last few minutes posting a blog about a few of the coaches who have submitted resumes for the UNT coaching job. Check back down the blog for more.

As far as the game goes today, there is one bit of breaking news, and it’s not good for UNT. Center Kaydon Kirby is out. He was in warmup pants while UNT’s players were stretching.

Kirby is a key cog in UNT’s offense as its center. UNT will likely turn to Creighton Barr, if he is healthy enough to go.

UNT doesn’t have a ton on the line today other than pride after a 1-9 start. That’s not the case for the Blue Raiders, who are trying to become bowl-eligible today. MTSU has won three of its last four and is playing well.

UNT is coming off a 24-0 loss to Tennessee. The Mean Green played well on defense, but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog all day.

Kickoff — UNT won the toss and deferred. MTSU will have the ball to open the game.

14:54 — MTSU will have the ball at the 25.

10:59 — Backup quarterback Austin Grammer goes in from 19 yards out. MTSU 7-0. That was a nice opening drive for the Blue Raiders.

6:30 — UNT blew a good scoring chance on its last possession. The Mean Green drove deep into MTSU territory, but stalled out. Trevor Moore missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.

2:57 — MTSU has extended its lead to 14-0 after a gutty call on fourth-and-3 from the UNT 12-yard line.

1:12 — UNT went three-and-out on its last possession. Red hot MTSU will have the ball at its 20-yard line to start this possession.

End of the first quarter — UNT is down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. MTSU is driving and has the ball at the Mean Green’s 24-yard line. Brent Stockstill has been really impressive. He just threw a beautiful deep ball that Ed Batties came down with. Stockstill has 154 passing yards so far.

13:59 — MTSU has gone up 21-0 on a terrific touchdown catch by Demetrius Frazier.

7:27 — UNT is on the board for the first time since its loss to Louisiana Tech two weeks ago. DaMarcus Smith just got the ball into the end zone from a yard out on a run. The Mean Green have cut their deficit to 21-7.

3:32 — MTSU has quickly answered UNT’s touchdown with one of its own, a 2-yard pass from Brent Stockstill to Ed Batties. Stockstill is torching UNT’s defense. He’s 18-for-20 for 205 yards and three touchdowns.

2:49 — UNT has gone three-and-out. MTSU has the ball back at its 25 and will have a chance to score before halftime.

1:56 — UNT’s defense came up with a big play on MTSU’s last possession. Kishawn McClain

1:22 — UNT turned right around and gave the ball back on a bad handoff fumble that MTSU recovered.

:46 — MTSU has pushed the ball to the UNT 40-yard line and called a timeout. The Blue Raiders are nearing field goal range.

Halftime — UNT is down 31-7 at halftime here in Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders kicked a field goal on the final play of the half. Brent Stockstill has thrown for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. UNT has 130 yards for game.

14:54 — UNT will have the ball at its 24 to start the second half.

11:51 — UNT didn’t get anything going on its last drive and had to punt the ball away. MTSU has the ball back at its 18-yard line.

8:09 — MTSU has extended its lead to 34-7 on a Cody Clark 40-yard field goal. The Blue Raiders are up 34-7. This game has gotten away from UNT quickly.

5:38 — Officials are taking a look at the last play. Willy Ivery fumbled and was recovered by MTSU. And it’s confirmed. MTSU has the ball back.

3:46 — UNT has the ball back after Malik Dilonga sacked Brent Stockstill on third-and-3 deep in MTSU’s end of the field. The ball is at the MTSU 49-yard line.

3:34 — UNT has turned the ball right back over to MTSU. DaMarcus Smith threw the ball late, down the middle and right to Kevin Byard, who is now the Blue Raiders all-time leader in interceptions with 18.

:58 — MTSU has tacked on another touchdown. Jordan Parker carried the ball in from 3 yards out and is now up 41-7. We are still in the third quarter. Stockstill has thrown for 322 yards so far.

Start of the fourth quarter — UNT has the ball to start the fourth quarter. Josh Greer is in at quarterback.

12:53 — UNT has just turned the ball over on downs after a Josh Greer pass fell incomplete.

Briles resume among those received by UNT

Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is among several coaches who have submitted their resumes to North Texas, which is looking for a new football coach. (Associated Press file photo)

Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is among several coaches who have submitted their resumes to North Texas, which is looking for a new football coach. (Associated Press file photo)

Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Brilesresume is among those that have been submitted to North Texas, which is in the midst of its search for a new football coach, according to documents provided the Denton Record-Chronicle in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Briles’ name came up immediately after UNT parted ways with Dan McCarney five games into its season. The Texas native and longtime college assistant coach fits the profile of what the school is looking for in a new coach. UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said earlier this fall that the school is looking for a coach who will install a wide-open offense and appeal to Texas high school recruits.

Briles is in his eighth season at Baylor and his first since being promoted to offensive coordinator. He served as Baylor’s passing game coordinator for the previous three seasons.

The Bears have featured one of the top offenses in the country in that span and are averaging 54.8 points a game heading into a showdown with Oklahoma State tonight. He is also a noted recruiter who has been honored as the Big 12 recruiter of the year on multiple occasions.

Briles is a former Texas high school standout and was twice named the Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year.

Texas Tech associate head coach Mike Jinks is another top Big 12 assistant coach who could fit the profile of what UNT is looking for in a coach. He is a Texas native and has spent time helping run the Red Raiders’ wide open offense and has also submitted his resume.

Villarreal and UNT officials have spent the last few weeks traveling to interview candidates for the job, including at least one whose resume was not included in the information the school provided in response to the FOI request.

Villarreal said after dismissing McCarney that he would like to have a new coach in place shortly after the season, so he can have time to recruit and hire a staff.

UNT plays Middle Tennessee at 11 a.m. today and will close the season next week in a home game against UTEP.

UNT coaching candidates

The following is a list of some of the top coaches who have submitted resumes for North Texas opening for a head coach. The information was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request:

Coach Current position
Kendal Briles Baylor offensive coordinator
Comment: Briles would be an ideal hire for UNT. The school is looking for a top recruiter and a coach with Texas ties who would run a wide-open offense.
Mike Jinks Texas Tech associate head coach
Comment: Jinks is a Texas native and former high school coach who also helps direct a wide open offense at Texas Tech.
Tim Horton Auburn running backs coach
Will Hall West Georgia head coach
Ed Lamb Southern Utah head coach
Donte’ Williams San Jose State secondary coach
Ray DeFrisco Illinois College associate head coach