MANHATTAN, Kan. — Tony Mitchell and Alzee Williams went shot-for-shot in the second half Tuesday to help North Texas pull away from Lamar and pick up Tony Benford’s first career victory in a 74-59 decision in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
A preseason All-American, Mitchell racked up 18 points and 10 rebounds for his 12th career double-double, and Williams hit a trio of jumpers in each half for 17 points.
Still, the night belonged to Benford, who earned the victory after 20-plus years of coaching that made him one of the most respected assistant coaches in the country.
After a couple of off shooting nights, North Texas (1-2) found its stroke against the Cardinals (0-2). UNT shot 45.3 percent on the night, including a 48.4 clip in outscoring the Cardinals 38-29 in the second half. The Mean Green led by as much as 22.
North Texas got the start it was looking for after a thunderous dunk from Keith Coleman put it on top 11-6 and drew a timeout from Lamar head coach Pat Knight. The Cardinals responded with 48.1 percent shooting to creep back into the game, but the Mean Green forced 12 Lamar turnovers in the first half.
Clarke Overlander hit his first career 3-pointer with just under two minutes left in the half to give UNT a 34-28 lead. Lamar’s Donnell Minton answered just before the break to make it 36-30.
UNT’s explosiveness caught up with the Cardinals early in the second half when Williams hooked up with Jordan Williams for an alley-oop that opened up the lead.
Chris Jones joined Alzee Williams and Mitchell in double figures with 15 points and seven assists. Jacob Holmen scored eight points in the second half to reach 10 for the game.
North Texas returns to the Super Pit