UNT-Southern Miss preview/running blog

UNT will take on Southern Miss at the Super Pit tonight, when the Mean Green will look to build on a huge win over Louisiana Tech on Thursday.

Louisiana Tech was a perfect 5-0 in Conference USA before UNT exploded to hit 15 of its first 17 shots to take a 21-point lead it just barely managed to hang on to late to close out the win.

UNT essentially has a chance to dig itself out of the hole it created earlier in the season over the next couple of weeks.

Southern Miss lost everybody from its NIT team last season, including its coach Donnie Tyndall.

To make matters worse, Southern Miss announced earlier it the week that it will not play in the postseason this year, a self-imposed penalty stemming from an investigation into rules violations in the program.

The good news for UNT goes beyond the fact the Mean Green come in off a big win, it also looks like DeAndre Harris will be back tonight. He was suspended indefinitely for being tossed twice in the span of four games. He has missed UNT’s last two games, but was dressed out when UNT came out a couple of minutes ago.

Harris gives UNT another option offensively.

Southern Miss is led by guards Matt Bingaya and Chip Armelin, who are averaging 14.2 and 13.1 points a game, respectively.

We went over the matchup in detail in Chalk Talk last night.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog all night.

Tipoff — UNT starters: Combs, Voss, Williams, Taylor, Aniefiok.

15:18 — UNT is off to a good start and is up 11-8 at the first media timeout. Jordan Williams has five points.

12:07 — DeAndre Harris is in. That answers our question as to if he will play today.

11:58 — UNT is up 17-10 as we approach the midway point of the first half. T.J. Taylor just hit a 3 after driving right to the arc and pulling up. Southern Miss is as bad as advertised. Jordan Williams is off to a good start and has six points already.

7:46 — Jeremy Combs just made a terrific play to pick up a charge. UNT is up 22-16 late in the first half. Jordan Williams has six points and Maurice Aniefiok five. UNT is shooting it well early for the second straight. The Mean Green have hit 56 percent of their shots from the floor.

3:16 — UNT is up 29-24 at the final media timeout of the first half. Southern Miss pulled to within 26-24 before Maurice Aniefiok hit a corner 3 to push the Mean Green’s lead back out to 29-24. Chip Armelin has 12 points already for Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have hit four of their first six 3-point attempts.

49.8 — UNT has called its use-it, or lose-it 30-second timeout in the closing seconds of the first half to set something up on its final possession. UNT is up 32-27.

35.4 — UNT just scored on a well-executed screen that freed Colin Voss for a free-throw line jumper. UNT is up 34-27. TO Southern Miss.

Halftime — UNT is up 37-29 at halftime after Maurice Aniefiok hit a 3 from the wing at the buzzer. Jordan Williams has nine points for UNT. Maurice Aniefiok and Jeremy Combs both have eight points. UNT got off to a good start and had a nine-point lead. Southern Miss closed to within two before Aniefiok hit a couple of late 3s. UNT has been good in the first half and bad in the second this year. We will have to see if that trend continues today.

14:29 — UNT went on a 9-1 run early in the second half and had a 14-point lead. Southern Miss has come back with five straight and has cut the Mean Green’s edge to 46-37. Jordan Williams has 15 points for UNT. Maurice Aniefiok and Jeremy Combs both have 11. UNT is still shooting 56 percent from the field.

11:20 — UNT is still up 50-43 as we near the midway point of the second half. Southern Miss closed to within five at 48-43 behind an 11-2 run. Todd Eaglin answered with a running bank shot to stretch the lead back to seven. Jordan Williams has 15 points for UNT. The Mean Green have three players in double figures. Jeremy Combs (13) and Maurice Aniefiok (11) also have scored in double figures.

7:53 — Southern Miss has pulled to within 52-48 as we head down the stretch in the second half. The Golden Eagles will have the ball coming out of this timeout. UNT has three turnovers in the last 2:37.

6:00 — UNT is up 53-48 late in the second half and just took a timeout. UNT will have the ball coming out of this timeout and could use a couple of buckets to create some separation. Jordan Williams has 15 points, while Jeremy Combs has 14.

4:15 — UNT is hanging on 55-52. Southern Miss was within one, but T.J. Taylor hit a baseline pull-up to push the led back to 3. TO USM

3:43 — We are all tied up at 55 late in the second half. Jeremy Combs is headed to the line for UNT. Matt Bingaya converted a three-point play to tie things up for Southern Miss. Armani Flannigan and Colin Voss both have four fouls for UNT. Jordan Williams has 15 points for the Mean Green.

2:27 — This game was all tied up at 60-57 after Jordan Williams hit a deep 3 that put him in the top 10 in UNT history in scoring. Southern Miss got off a shot on its last possession and missed. The ball went out off UNT.

1:19 — UNT is up 60-59 and just took a timeout. Michael O’Donnell just scored off an offensive rebound for Southern Miss.

46.0 — UNT ended up with a deep 3 from Jordan Williams on its last possession. The shot came up short. Southern Miss called a timeout and will have the ball with a chance to go up. UNT leads 60-59. Chip Armelin has been the Golden Eagles’ best option tonight.

23.0 — Southern Miss had a shot in the lane and missed it. Colin Voss grabbed the board and hit two free throws. UNT 62-59. TO UNT.

Overtime — Jeremy Combs missed the front end of a one-and-one and Southern Miss tied it up Norville Carey 3 with about three seconds left. T.J. Taylor got a heave off just before the buzzer, but missed it. We are headed to overtime.

2:44 — Southern Miss scored the first points of overtime, but UNT has answered with a Maurice Aniefiok jumper and a TJ Taylor floater. UNT leads 66-64. TO Southern Miss. UNT has played well defensively in overtime so far.

1:49 — Chip Armelin just hit an NBA 3 to put Southern Miss up 67-66. Jordan Williams missed a corner 3, but UNT grabbed the rebound. Jeremy Combs is headed to the line.

1:48 — We are all tied up at 67. Jordan Williams is headed to the line.

57.0 — Southern Miss has scored the last five points to go up 72-68. Chip Armelin just hit a huge 3 for Southern Miss. TO UNT.

34.5 — Chip Armelin hit a free throw. Jordan Williams missed at the rim, but the ball went out to UNT. 73-68 USM. TO UNT. The Mean Green don’t have to have a 3 right here, just a quick bucket.

Final — Southern Miss 75, UNT 71. Killer loss for UNT. I will be back.

Chalk talk — Southern Miss at UNT

Junior forward Muhammed Ahmed and the UNT men's basketball team will look to build on a key win over Louisiana Tech today when they take on Southern Miss (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Southern Miss at UNT

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Super Pit

Radio: KNTU-FM 88.1, KHYI-FM 95.3

Records: UNT 8-10, 2-4 C-USA, Southern Miss 5-12, 0-6 C-USA

Last game: UNT 73, Louisiana Tech 66

Projected UNT starting lineup:

PG: Todd Eaglin, 5-10 Jr. — 2.9 points, 1.6 rebounds a game, 31 assists on the season. Eaglin made his fifth straight start in UNT’s win over Louisiana Tech and finished with three points in 13 minutes.

SG: Maurice Aniefiok, 6-5 Jr. — 7.4 points, 3.1 rebounds a game, shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range, 25 assists, 17 steals on the season. Aniefiok finished with four points in 37 minutes against the Bulldogs in UNT’s last game.

SF: Jordan Williams, 6-6 Sr. — 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds a game, 41 assists, 30 steals on the season. Williams scored 16 points in UNT’s win over Louisiana Tech and hit a number of key shots down the stretch.

F: Jeremy Combs, 6-7, Fr. — 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds a game, shooting 57.8 percent from the field, but just 45.9 percent from the free-throw line. Combs has scored in double figures in three of UNT’s last four games and tallied 16 points in the Mean Green’s win over Louisiana Tech. The freshman hit a putback in the closing seconds to ice the game for UNT

F: Colin Voss, 6-7, Sr. — 7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds a game, shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the line, 24 assists on the season. Voss scored 16 points in UNT’s win over Louisiana Tech and hit six of his 10 shots from the field.

Scouting Southern Miss:

Southern Miss has lost nine straight and announced earlier in the week that it has it has self-imposed a one-year postseason ban on the program for alleged violations under former coach Donnie Tyndall. Guards Matt Bingaya (14.2) and Chip Armelin (13.1) are both averaging double figures in scoring for the Golden Eagles.

Who’s hot:

Jeremy Combs finished with 16 points in UNT’s win over Louisiana Tech, his third game in double figures in the Mean Green’s last four games. Combs also tallied a season-high 13 rebounds against the Bulldogs and posted a double-double for the second time in UNT’s last three games.

What you need to know:

UNT needs to grab the momentum it established in its win over Louisiana Tech and continue to dig its way out of the hole it dropped into while losing six of its previous seven games. The Mean Green picked up another big win earlier this season, knocking of Creighton at home. UNT turned right around and lost to Prairie View A&M.

UNT coach Tony Benford said that he believes the Mean Green have matured since that loss.

One of the more encouraging aspects of its win over Louisiana Tech for UNT  was the fact it was a whole lot more efficient offensively than it has been at times this season. UNT hit 15 of its first 17 shots from the field and built a 21-point lead.

UNT nearly squandered that big advantage in the second half, but managed to hang on. The Mean Green will look to show the same form they displayed early on in their game against Louisiana Tech  against Southern Miss.

If the Mean Green can win today — and they should — it would push UNT to 3-4 in conference play heading into a winnable home game against Rice next week. A 4-4 record in conference play would look awfully good to UNT considering where it was not too long ago at 1-4.

UNT weekend recruiting visit primer

Dallas Kimball wide receiver Courtney Wright will be among a host of key recruits who will visit UNT this weekend. (DMN file photo)

UNT will have a number of recruits in on official visits this weekend in what will be a key point in the Mean Green’s efforts to bolster their class heading into signing day. So where does UNT stand?

Here’s the MGB’s status report:

Key uncommitted visitors:  

DE Jereid Combs, Iowa Central Community College

UNT jumped into the race for Combs over the last month and appears to be in good position heading into the weekend, thanks to the work of defensive line coach Kevin Patrick.

Cincinnati and Memphis are also in the hunt, but UNT seems like the team to beat. The Mean Green had a solid year in terms of production on their defensive front, but Combs appears to be the kind of player who could come in and immediately upgrade UNT’s talent level.

CB Paul Banks, Navarro College

UNT has turned over every rock from Texas to Mississippi in search of a junior college cornerback who can step in for second-team All-Conference USA selection James Jones, who was a senior last year.

UNT had a player to fill that spot in Zavian Bingham, but parted ways with him when he suffered a knee injury last season. The Mean Green then swung and missed on Quinton Lane, who committed to South Alabama.

UNT has an offer out to JUCO All-American Treston Decoud, who’s stock has shot through the roof. He’s at Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend and has an offer from Oregon State. Decoud is from Louisiana and is at Northwest Community College in Mississippi. The school put out a 10-minute video in which Decoud talks about his recruiting process that doesn’t bode well for UNT.

Xavier Grindle, a Pearl River (Mississippi) JC product, showed up on the radar this week and could also be in for a visit to UNT soon. Considering how much UNT has struggled to convince a JUCO cornerback to sign on, I would imagine UNT will look to get a commitment from Banks (or Grindle if he comes to town this weekend) and then hang on for dear life heading into signing day.

Other uncommitted prosepects

WR Courtney Wright, Kimball

Scottsdale JC wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson signed with UNT at the semester break, while Tyler John Tyler wide receiver Rodney Bendy committed to the Mean Green months ago. 

The Mean Green also made a run at a host of other wide receivers, including Jerminic Smith, the younger brother of former Mean Green wide receiver Darnell Smith, Trinity Valley JC product Jarvis Baxter and one-time SMU commit D’erren Wilson.

Smith committed to Iowa a while back, while Baxter committed to South Florida. Wilson appears to be headed to Central Florida. UNT still has a shot to flip Baxter late, but at this point Wright might be the Mean Green’s best bet.

If UNT elects to offer Wright, my feeling after talking with him is that he will commit to UNT. He is set to visit Louisiana-Monroe next weekend. The question is if UNT will offer or if the Mean Green’s staff is confident they can land another player.

Committed players 

CB Ashton Preston, Edmond (Oklahoma Santa Fe)

Preston committed to UNT all the way back in July and is one of the gems of the Mean Green’s class so far. He has held firm since committing. Preston has ties to the school, including linebacker Calvin Minor, who he has been good friends with for years. It would be a shock if Preston doesn’t sign with UNT.

RD Wegmann, Wichita Falls 

Wegmann committed to UNT back in August and has held firm ever since. He is a solid mid-major prospect at a position where it is hard to find players. This weekend will be UNT’s opportunity to wine and dine a player who looks like a lock for its class.

Oklahoma DL Harrison emerges as late target for UNT

DeMikal Harrison’s journey in football started in an unexpected place just a few years ago. Harrison played basketball for Midwest City (Oklahoma) High and was in his high school gym.

Harrison, who is 6-5, 290, happened to jump up and dunk the ball, which caught the attention of Jason Sexton, the school’s defensive coordinator.

“He asked me to do it again,” Harrison said. “I did. He told me then that he needed a defensive end and asked me to come out for football.”

Harrison did just that and has quickly developed into a major college prospect in less than two years.

Harrison has offers from UTEP, South Dakota and Central Arkansas. UNT defensive line coach Kevin Patrick is recruiting Harrison. Here are his Hudl highlights.

Harrison is ranked No. 25 on the Daily Oklahoman‘s Super 30 list of the top prospects in the state

“Coach Patrick came to see me and thinks I can become a defensive tackle in college,” Harrison said. “I am waiting to see if UNT will offer.”

UTEP also came into the picture for Harrison in the last few months, but could have a jump on the Mean Green. The Miners coaching staff has already offered Harrison a scholarship and  is hosting him on an official visit that began today.

UNT is closer to home than UTEP for Harrison, who plans to wait until signing day to decide where he will continue his football career.

Harrison’s plans will depend on whether or not UNT offers a scholarship.

“If UNT offers, I will take an official visit before signing day,” Harrison said. “Then it would be between UTEP and North Texas.”

Late-night hoops rewind: UNT 73, Louisiana Tech 66

Final: UNT 73, Louisiana Tech 66

Where UNT stands: UNT improved to 8-10 overall and 2-4 in Conference USA play after winning for just the second time in its last eight games

Now what?: UNT has cleared a difficult section of its schedule and how has what look like winnable home games coming up against Southern Miss on Saturday and Rice on Jan. 31.


Star of the day: Freshman Jeremy Combs posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds against Louisiana Tech and came up with a series of key plays down the stretch. Combs blocked a shot late and also scored on a putback in the closing seconds that put UNT up five points. Combs hit six of his eight shots from the field, but made just one of his four of his nine free throws. Those misses didn’t end up mattering when he made a series of plays late that helped put UNT over the top.

Say what?

“It’s a great win. To beat a team that is picked to win the conference shows that when we are healthy, we can compete with and beat anyone in this league.”

– Tony Benford, UNT coach

Our take: UNT’s win over Louisiana Tech was huge. There’s just no other way to put it.

The Mean Green came into the night reeling, having lost six of their last seven games and had struggled  offensively at times over the last few weeks. UNT scored just 50 points in a loss to Old Dominion in its last game and nearly reached that total in its win over Louisiana Tech by halftime, when the Mean Green ran out to a 49-28 lead.

UNT appeared as if it couldn’t miss early on, hitting 15 of its first 17 shots.

The Mean Green went flat in the second half when Louisiana Tech pulled to within one point, but hung on. UNT grabbed 10 of the last 12 rebounds and scored several second chance points. Jeremy Combs’ stick-back in the closing seconds essentially sealed the win for the Mean Green.

Jordan Williams scored 16 points, which was no surprise. UNT had someone else who scored consistently. That was a surprise.

Combs, Colin Voss and T.J. Taylor also finished with 16 points.

UNT has been pretty good all season long defensively. If the Mean Green can put the ball in the basket with any regularity, it could crawl its way  back toward the middle of the C-USA standings.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Mean Green’s slump-busting win was that it came against Louisiana Tech, which entered the night with a 5-0 record in C-USA play. The Bulldogs are a really good team.

UNT sat in its zone and kept the ball out of the paint most of the night. Louisiana Tech took 32  shots from behind the arc and made just nine.

UNT made enough shots on the other end to pull off the upset and set up what seems like a pretty clear path back to the .500 mark in its next two games.

UNT-Louisiana Tech preview/running blog

UNT will take on Louisiana Tech in a matchup between teams heading in opposite directions tonight at the Super Pit.

The Mean Green have lost six of their last seven and are taking on water fast. Louisiana Tech, on the other hand, has won six straight and is a perfect 5-0 in Conference USA play. The Mean Green are 1-4.

UNT will be without the services of DeAndre Harris tonight. The sophomore guard has been suspended indefinitely after being tossed twice in four games. He is expected to be back for a game against Southern Miss on Saturday. Or at least that is the plan.

That will make what is already going to be a tough spot for UNT even tougher. Harris  is one of UNT’s bigger and more physical guards. He would come in handy tonight against Louisiana Tech, which features arguably the best backcourt in C-USA. Kenneth “Speedy” Smith is one of the nation’s top assist men at 7.4 per game. Raheem Appleby is averaging 17.5 points a game, while Alex Hamilton is adding 16.3 points a night.

UNT has leaded on senior guard Jordan Williams all season. He is averaging 15.4 points a night.

The question for UNT — as always — is can anyone else score.?


Freshman Jeremy Combs is averaging 9.2 points a game, but tends to struggle against bigger more physical teams. Louisiana Tech has one of the best shot blockers in the conference in 6-10 Michale Kyser and 6-8 forward Erik McCree.

Over-under on the number of times we drop the phrase “Who let the dogs out?” in tonight’s blog: Four.

The key to staying in this one for UNT is to keep Louisiana Tech out of transition. The Mean Green will have a whole lot better chance to slow down the Bulldogs if they can get back and set up their 3-2 zone. If they do get it set up, they are going to have to keep Smith from driving the gaps.

UNT can’t end up standing there on the defensive end wondering who let the dogs out? (that’s one) while Louisiana Tech races to the other end of the floor to show why people call them the Dunkin’ Dogs.

In an interesting side note UNT has not beaten Louisiana Tech since the 1985-86 season and has lost nine straight to the Bulldogs.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog all night.

6:55 — There are a pretty good number of Louisiana Tech fans here tonight. The UNT crowd is pretty light. The big push to revive the Pit Crew has brought out a few dozen UNT students.

6:58 — UNT is having some audio problems. That is the second time poor Tim Crouch has belted out, “Here come the …” and nothing.

Tipoff — UNT’s starters: Todd Eaglin, Colin Voss, Jordan Williams, Maurice Aniefiok and Jeremy Combs. UNT is sticking with Eaglin, who will have his hands full with Kenneth Smith.

Tipoff II — UNT will be without Armani Flannigan tonight. He has a concussion. That’s not going to help matters any.

15:59 — UNT is up 11-6 in the early going and just took a timeout after Todd Eaglin picked up his dribble in the backcourt and was trapped.

15:47 — UNT worked the ball to the corner on its possession after its timeout. Jordan Williams drilled a 3 to put the Mean Green up 14-6.

15:03 — UNT is still up 14-8 at the first media timeout of the first half. Louisiana Tech scored on its last possession and grabbed a UNT miss. Maurice Aniefiok was called for going over the back of a Louisiana Tech player. The Bulldogs will have the ball out of this timeout.

11:21 — UNT is up 26-14 in a stunning start here at the Super Pit. Jeremy Combs has eight points for the Mean Green, who have hit 10 of their first 12 shots. Louisiana Tech has missed all three of its 3-point attempts. Jeremy Combs has eight points for UNT.

8:18 — UNT is running away with this one. The Mean Green can’t miss. UNT has hit 15 of its first 17 shots and are up 37-18. Louisiana Tech just took a timeout.

7:41 — UNT finally missed a shot, but is still up 37-20. Colin Voss, Jeremy Combs and Jordan Williams all have eight points for UNT. The Mean Green are shooting 83 percent from the field and have hit all but one of their six shots from 3-point range.

2:36 — UNT has answered a small run by Louisiana Tech and pushed its lead to 42-23 late in the first half by scoring the last five points. T.J. Taylor is headed to the line for a couple of free throws. Colin Voss has 11 points and Jeremy Combs 10 for UNT. The Mean Green are still shooting 77 percent from the field.

1:40 — UNT was up 21 before Louisiana Tech hit a 3. The Bulldogs have the ball and have taken a timeout.

Halftime — T.J. Taylor just hit a 3 at the buzzer, UNT’s sixth of the half to put the Mean Green up 49-28 at halftime. UNT flat couldn’t miss in the first half and wound up shooting 72 percent (18-for-25) from the field. Taylor 12, Colin Voss 11 and Jeremy Combs all scored in double figures in the first half. UNT hit six of its nine shots from 3-point range.

17:51 — Louisiana Tech is trying to make a game of this. The Bulldogs have opened the second half on a 7-0 run and have pulled to within 49-35. UNT has turned it over a couple of times early in the half. Louisiana Tech’s fans are starting to get into the game, which isn’t going to help matters. The Bulldogs are going to get into UNT the rest of the night to try to force turnovers.

15:59 — UNT has steadied the ship a little bit and is up 53-38. Louisiana Tech had a chance to pull to within 10, but missed a 3. T.J. Taylor has 14 points for UNT. Jeremy Combs has 12 and Colin Voss 10. Louisiana Tech hasn’t hit a free throw all night.

11:33 — UNT saw its lead shrink to eight points, but is back up 57-47 about halfway through the second half. Jeremy Combs and TJ Taylor have 14 points each for UNT.

10:42 — Louisiana Tech has pulled to within 57-50 and had a look at a 3 to get to within four that was off. UNT just turned the ball over. Louisiana Tech will have the ball out of this timeout. T.J. Taylor and Jeremy Combs both have 14 points for UNT. The  Mean Green are not nearly as hot offensively as they were in the first half

8:48 — Louisiana Tech is within five at 58-53 after Alex Hamilton hit a 3. The Bulldogs have become pretty reliant on shots from behind the arc. Jeremy Combs lost a contact. We are in a timeout. Colin Voss, T.J. Taylor and Jeremy Combs all have 14 points for UNT. Louisiana Tech has hit eight 3s and has outscored UNT 25-9 in the second half.

7:21 — Louisiana Tech has pulled to within 58-56 as we head down the stretch in the second half. The Bulldogs had a look at a 3 that would have given them the lead, but missed it. Louisiana Tech will have the ball coming out of this timeout and have momentum on its side.  UNT has nine points in the second half.

4:22 — UNT’s lead is down to one at 63-62, but Louisiana Tech guard Speedy Smith is down after hitting a layup. It looks like he twisted his ankle.

3:13 — UNT is back up 65-62 and has the ball after grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds. Those were big boards for UNT.

1:44 — UNT is up 69-64 at the final media timeout. Louisiana Tech is headed to the line after UNT turned the ball over and committed a foul on the ensuing break. Louisiana Tech can make this a one possession game again with a couple of free throws here.

5.0 — UNT is going to pull this off. The Mean Green have a 71-66 lead and the ball after Jeremy Combs hit a putback on UNT’s last possession.

Final — UNT has pulled off a stunner here at the Super Pit, upsetting Louisiana Tech, which was 5-0 in Conference USA play 73-66. I will be back later.

Miss. JC corner Grindle strongly considering UNT

Pearl River (Mississippi) Community College cornerback Xavier Grindle didn’t hear from UNT’s coaching staff until this week.

That late start doesn’t appear as if it will prevent the Mean Green from being a player in the recruiting process for the former Mississippi State running back.

Grindle signed with Mississippi State back in 2012 and redshirted his first season at the school before electing to transfer out. The East Marion graduate fell off the radar at the point before making the move to cornerback and reemerging as a major college prospect.

UNT has been scouring the junior college ranks for a cornerback and are making a late push for the 5-11, 200-pound speedster. Grindle was a second-team All-MACJC selection last season.

“The coaches came by today to evaluate my film and said that they loved it,” Grindle said Wednesday. “They said that they are going to offer me. That was the first time I had talked to them.”

The Mississippi native will graduate in May and transfer to a major college program at that point.

Arizona State, Fresno State, Kentucky and Louisville are among the teams showing interest in Grindle. Louisiana-Lafayette has offered a scholarship.

“I am not really leaning anyway at this point,” Grindle said. “I want to get to the know the coaches and see what they are like and what the schools are like.

“It doesn’t really matter that North Texas is coming in at the last minute.”

UNT is trying to get Grindle to Denton for a visit before national signing day. He could take that visit this weekend or next weekend.

“I am looking for a good foundation of history, a good team, great coaches and a good education,” Grindle said. “I want to be around a program that is ready to win a championship.”

Five UNT players who could break out in 2015

North Texas sophomore wide receiver Darvin Kidsy is brought down by Florida International safety Niko Gonzalez last season at Apogee Stadium. Kidsy is among a handful of UNT players who are in position for breakout seasons in 2015. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas is looking for a way to get back on track in 2015. The Mean Green finished 9-4 in 2013 and won just the third bowl game in program history before crashing last season, when UNT finished just 4-8. The Mean Green’s hopes to rebound rest at least in part with a handful of players who could break out next season. Here are five who could be poised for a big season this fall:

DaMarcus Smith, junior, quarterback

2014 stats: Smith threw for 2,746 yards and 31 touchdowns in his only season at Butler County College in Kansas.

Why Smith could be in for a big year: UNT had three different players start at quarterback last season and all of them are scheduled to return in Andrew McNulty, Dajon Williams and Josh Greer. UNT also has a redshirt freshman on the roster in Connor Means and a grayshirt quarterback who arrived at the semester break in Caleb Chumley. UNT still went out and signed Smith, one of the top JUCO quarterbacks in the country. That is how desperate UNT is for an upgrade. Smith will have to beat out McNulty and win the job. If he does, Smith will have a chance to show what he can do right away and guide the Mean Green’s offense.

 Kishawn McClain, sophomore, safety

2014 stats: 39 tackles, one interception.

Why McClain could be in for a big year: McClain spent the most of his freshman season backing up senior Sheldon Wade, but showed potential in limited time, including three starts when Wade was out with a shoulder injury. UNT signed JUCO safety James Gray, who looks like he will partner with McClain. If McClain starts the entire year, he could finish among the Mean Green’s leading tacklers. UNT’s staff has been high on McClain since he arrived on campus.

 Darvin Kidsy, junior, wide receiver

2014 stats: 15 catches for 148 yards, 532 return yards

Why Kidsy could be in for a big year: Kidsy moved into a bigger role during his sophomore season in the return game and also played a bigger part in UNT’s offense. Kidsy has the potential to be a playmaker for the Mean Green and could have more opportunities in 2015 after progressing during his sophomore season.

Jeffrey Wilson, sophomore, running back

2014 stats: 50 carries for 224 yards and a touchdown

Why Wilson could be in for a big year: UNT coach Dan McCarney has said that Wilson has the potential to be one of the Mean Green’s all-time great running backs. UNT tried to get Wilson involved early in the season before injuries slowed him down. The former Elkhart standout got his chance to shine in a season-ending loss to UTSA and rushed for 105 yards. UNT likes to rotate running backs and returns leading rusher Antoinne Jimmerson, but lost Reggie Pegram, its season-leading rusher, to graduation. Wilson will be in line for a bigger role next fall.

 Tee Goree, redshirt freshman, wide receiver 

2014 stats: NA

Why Goree could be in for a big year: Signing Goree was one of the bigger recruiting wins in recent years for UNT. Goree had offers from a host of Power 5 conference teams, but UNT held strong and signed Goree and his highly regarded teammate O’Keeron Rutherford. UNT redshirted both. If UNT can find a quarterback who can get Goree the ball, he has the potential to be an impact player.

Chalk talk — Louisiana Tech at UNT

Louisiana Tech at UNT

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Super Pit

Radio: KNTU-FM 88.1, KHYI-FM 95.3

Records: UNT 7-10, 1-4 C-USA, Louisiana Tech 14-4, 5-0 C-USA

Last game: Old Dominion 61, UNT 50

Projected UNT starting lineup:

PG: Todd Eaglin, 5-10 Jr. — 2.9 points, 1.6 rebounds a game, 30 assists on the season. Eaglin made his fourth straight start in UNT’s loss to Old Dominion, but played just 14 minutes, although he did hand out four assists.

SG: Maurice Aniefiok, 6-5 Jr. — 7.6 points, 3.2 rebounds a game, shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range, 25 assists, 16 steals on the season. Aniefiok played 37 minutes in UNT’s loss to Old Dominion, but finished with just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.

SF: Jordan Williams, 6-6 Sr. — 15.4 points, 5.1 rebounds a game, 39 assists, 28 steals on the season. Williams continued to carry UNT offensively in the Mean Green’s loss to Old Dominion, scoring a season-high 23 points, nearly half UNT’s total on the night.

F: Jeremy Combs, 6-7, Fr. — 9.2 points, 6.1 rebounds a game, shooting 56.5 percent from the field, but just 46.1 percent from the free-throw line. Combs finished with six points and six rebounds in UNT’s loss to Old Dominion and took just four shots in 35 minutes.

F: Colin Voss, 6-7, Sr. — 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds a game, shooting 49 percent from the field and 76.3 percent from the line, 24 assists on the season. Voss managed just four points and two rebounds in UNT’s loss to Old Dominion.

Scouting Louisiana Tech:

Louisiana Tech is easily one of the top teams in Conference USA, thanks in large part to a loaded backcourt. Raheem Appleby (17.5 points a game), Alex Hamilton (16.3 points a game) and Kenneth Smith (7.4 assists a game) are all having monster years. UNT coach Tony Benford said at the beginning of the season that his backcourt would be among the best in C-USA this season. This game will test that notion.

Who’s hot:

Jordan Williams has been as consistent as anyone could have hoped in his senior season and has been one of the bright spots for UNT. Williams has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and is coming off a 23-point game against Old Dominion in which he hit eight of his 17 shots from the field. Williams has been in a bit of a slump from 3-point range, though. He has hit just three of his last 15 attempts.

What you need to know:

UNT has lost six of its last seven games, a slide that won’t be easy to break against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are on a roll after winning their last six games, including an impressive 13-point win over UTEP.

Louisiana Tech’s guards could pose a big problem for UNT, especially on a night the Mean Green will be without troubled guard DeAndre Harris. The sophomore’s indefinite suspension for being ejected twice in a four-game span will continue through at least one more game.

Armani Flannigan is also dealing with a concussion.

The Mean Green will need someone other than Williams to score. The senior scored 23 against ODU on a night UNT didn’t have another player score more than seven.

UNT is a huge underdog against the Dunkin’ Dogs. Just playing well would be a good sign for the Mean Green as they head into a series of what seems like an period of time when UNT could regroup.

A reeling Southern Miss team that just found out it is ineligible for the postseason comes to Denton on Saturday. The Mean Green then have a week off.

Kimball standout eyeing UNT as visit looms

Kimball wide receiver Courtney Wright races past Samuel’s defense for a touchdown last season at Forester Field. North Texas’ coaches conducted an in-home visit with Wright on Wednesday. (File photo/The Dallas Morning News)

UNT’s coaching staff made the short trip to Dallas on Wednesday night to visit Kimball wide receiver Courtney Wright.

The Mean Green bolstered their already strong standing with the 6-foot-5 senior who earned first-team All-District 13-5A honors last season. UNT wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Grant is recruiting Wright.

“It went pretty well,” Wright said. “Kansas and ULM are interested and things are starting to heat up with Texas Tech, but right now UNT is my favorite. It’s closer to home and coach Grant is a standup guy. He talked about education first, which is a big priority of mine.”

Wright said UNT has been recruiting him for about a month.

A host of Division II schools, including East Central, Henderson State and West Texas A&M have offered Wright a scholarship. Wright also believes he will receive an offer from Louisiana-Monroe. He is scheduled to visit the school on the 30th.

Wright will take an official visit to UNT this weekend. It will be his second official visit, following a trip to ECU. He caught 41 passes for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Wright’s stock appears to be on the rise. He said he will probably wait until national signing day to decide where to play on the college level.

“I want to digest everything,” Wright said.

At this point, Wright likes what he has seen in UNT.

“I want to major in marketing and North Texas puts out a lot of good graduates in that field,” Wright said. “I also like that they run a pro offense, throw the ball and have their quarterback coming back.”