BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky — For just the third time in program history and the first time since 2010, the North Texas men's basketball team Saturday afternoon beat Western Kentucky on the road, 65-60.The win is the Mean Green's ninth in their last 10 games and improves them to 11-4 overall and 4-1 in conference. UNT was led Saturday by fifth-year senior Thomas Bell who scored 17 points. He also had six rebounds and four assists in the five-point win.
"One thing I love about how we won today is we did it the way we need to play," said head coach Grant McCasland. "I'm super proud of all of the guys, especially the guys like Aaron Scott and JJ Murray who played fantastic and then Thomas Bell really settled us in late. This was a great win for us."
In what was a rematch of the 2021 Conference USA Tournament title game that North Texas won 61-58, they once again did it on the defensive end to beat WKU for a third straight time.
UNT entered Saturday as the nation's No. 1 3-point defensive team only giving up an average of 4.3 per game. On Saturday they didn't give up a WKU (10-7, 2-2 C-USA) 3-pointer for the first 37 minutes of the 40-minute game. The Hilltoppers finished the game 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from deep. North Texas forced 15 WKU turnovers and scored 13 points off the turnovers.
While UNT was preventing WKU from making 3-pointers on the defensive end, on the offensive side they began the game hot from 3-point range. North Texas opened the game four-of-six from deep and finished 10-of-23 (43.5 percent). Despite having a height disadvantage down low, the Mean Green still matched the Hilltoppers in scoring in the paint as each team scored 26 around the rim.
"We got lucky a few times they didn't have some threes go in but I thought defending them on the arc was one of the best things we did tonight and just making sure we had the right guys we wanted shooting for them at the right time," McCasland said. "The senior leadership tonight was great and I'm so thankful for those guys in the locker room."
UNT returns home next week and hosts Charlotte on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT. Following Thursday's game they'll host Old Dominion on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT at the Super Pit.
“It feels great, we feel like this is the hardest road trip in C-USA,” senior guard JJ Murray said. “For us to come away 2-0, it’s a good feeling. It gives us a little momentum coming back home.”