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  1. North Texas guard Jordan Williams took note of what happened when Columbia took on national power Michigan State last week. So did teammate Brandan Walton and UNT head coach Tony Benford. And they weren’t the only ones. That was how well the Lions played against what is now the top-ranked team in the country. Columbia led by four at halftime and had a chance to pull off the upset before going scoreless for the final 4:27 as the Spartans pulled away for a 62-53 win. UNT will face plenty of challenges this week when it plays its final three games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but its first game — against the same Columbia team that gave the Spartans fits — could be the biggest challenge of them all. The Mean Green will face the Lions at 4 p.m. today before taking on Idaho on Friday and Portland on Saturday. All three games will be played at the University of Portland in Portland, Ore. “We saw Columbia play against Michigan State. They jumped out on them,” Williams said. “It was impressive. We know that we are going to have to play hard.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20131120-men-s-basketball-unt-looking-forward-to-portland-challenge.ece
  2. Aniefiok showed that he is another one of those types of players in his breakout performance against Nicholls State that included a key shooting run. UNT trailed by as many as eight and didn’t take its first lead until Aniefiok heated up in the closing moments before halftime. The Mean Green was down 28-20 when Aniefiok hit his first 3, sparking UNT. The sophomore hit three 3s in the final 6:08 of the first half, including one that gave UNT its first lead at 33-32. The Mean Green went 4-for-6 from behind the arc in first half and led 38-36 at the break. “I got on a bit of a run,” Aniefiok said. “I took it upon myself because I knew we needed to score. They left me open. I had to take them.” Those shots changed the game for UNT. “We were stagnant a little bit and Maurice opened it up for us,” Benford said. “He shot them with confidence. That is something he can do for us.” UNT believes Aniefiok is just one player on its roster this year who is capable of getting on a roll. The arsenal of shooters is one reason UNT believes it won’t experience the same shooting problems it experienced last season. The Mean Green will head off to Portland, Ore., next week shooting a respectable 39.1 percent from 3-point range after its win over Nicholls State, thanks largely to Aniefiok. “Maurice was solid, made big shots and rebounded the ball,” Benford said. “He’s a good player. He sat out all of last year and is trying to get into a groove and rhythm. He got into one for us tonight.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20131115-men-s-basketball-aniefiok-helps-unt-shoot-down-nicholls.ece
  3. NORTH TEXAS: Despite having an NBA prospect on the squad and playing in the SBC, the Mean Green went just 12-20 with a 7-13 league record last season, the first under coach Tony Benford. The poor performance was mostly caused by a handful of injuries that limited many of UNT's players, including its starting backcourt of Brandan Walton and Chris Jones, who played a combined total of only 15 games. Both were clearly missed as the team struggled to open things up for Mitchell on the inside due to its 28.5 percent effort on 3-point attempts. If healthy, UNT will drastically improve this season as Jones (9.2 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Walton (8.8 ppg in 2011-12) both return to join leading scorer Jordan Williams (14.2 ppg) and Alzee Williams (11.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg) in the starting lineup. The Mean Green also have a new enforcer in the paint as the 6-foot-10 Kelvin Gaines becomes eligible after transferring from Cincinnati. Freshman Greg Wesley (6-7, 215) could see the floor right away as well after being considered a top-10 prospect in the Lone Star State. - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/college-basketball/college-basketball-preview-conference-usa#sthash.DIpk7OsQ.dpuf
  4. Conference USA status: The Mean Green arrive from – where else? – the Sun Belt. Who’s in charge? Tony Benford, who was Buzz Williams’ right-hand man at Marquette, is in his second season in Denton. Who are the players to watch? Guard Alzee Williams played 34.5 minutes a game and had just 34 turnovers all season. Guard Jordan Williams averaged 14.9 points, ninth in the Sun Belt. What have they done lately? North Texas dipped to 12-20 last year but has averaged 20 wins over the past seven years, and made NCAA appearances in 2007 and 2010. Read more: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/10/meet-your-cusa-foes-north-texas-2
  5. I’m getting to the blog a little late today, but after doing a little running around to talk with people, here’s the news and notes of the day. UNT’s focus is on a monster game against Rice on Thursday, but this is also a big week for the basketball programs. The new floor in the Super Pit is going down Thursday. The old court will be taken out and the new one put in. I’m not sure how long the process will take, but I will try to go by and get some video, or at least a shot of it. I expect that UNT will likely do the same. The new floor will complete the latest facility upgrades for the basketball programs. I mentioned a few weeks back a little about what the floor will look like, but to review: – The lane will be green Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/10/tuesday-afternoon-notes-court-goes-down-thursday.html/
  6. I just finished sending in my story for tomorrow’s paper on UNT’s basketball tip-off event. We’ll get to that in a minute, but here is the news of the day — Cincinnati transfer forward Kelvin Gaines is out four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. I mentioned in the running blog that he was not playing tonight. Tony Benford said after the event that UNT considered its options and decided that it would be best for Gaines to have the injury operated on now rather than put it off and end up losing him late in the season. He should be back in late November or early December. UNT will have to get by without a player who is expected to be a big presence under the basket until then. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/10/breaking-news-and-tip-off-event-wrap-gaines-out-four-to-six-weeks.html/
  7. Following the addition of Kelvin Gaines to UNT’s roster yesterday, I started taking a look at the Mean Green’s roster for next season and doing the math. UNT has six scholarship players set to return: Keith Coleman, Chris Jones, Jordan Williams, T.J. Taylor, Alzee Williams and Brandan Walton. To that group UNT has added: Kelvin Gaines, Vertrail Vaughns, Collin Voss, Armani Flannigan, Tony Nunn, Josh Friar and Greg Wesley. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/06/looking-at-unts-hoops-roster-benford-everyone-will-be-back.html/
  8. A few days after the season ended, we ran through the players the UNT men’s basketball team was losing to graduation and what its needs would be for next season. Since then (deep breath) … Tony Mitchell declared for the NBA draft as expected, Clarke Overlander announced he was leaving the program and then P.J. Hardwick followed out the door. Seeing Overlander elect to leave was not a big surprise. Hardwick played a lot, so even though his departure had been a rumor for weeks, it was a bit of an unexpected turn. So where does UNT stand? Here’s a look. Who’s back: G/F Jordan Williams, Jr. — 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds a game SG/PG Alzee Williams, Sr. — 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds a game PG Chris Jones, Jr. — 9.2 points a game, 74 assists (16 games) SG Brandan Walton, Sr. — 8.8 points a game, 54 3s made on 36.7 percent shooting from behind the arc (stats from 2011-12 season) C Keith Coleman, Jr. — 1.3 points, 1.6 rebounds a game SG T.J. Taylor — transfer from Marquette and Oklahoma who sat out last year Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/04/lets-try-this-again-whos-back-what-are-the-needs-for-unt-hoops.html/
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