North Texas has started to put a tough couple of games to open the season behind it over the last week.
The Mean Green knocked off Lamar and beat Cameron in its home opener, a pair of victories that helped erase the pain of a couple of losses to open the season against Creighton and Alabama-Huntsville.
A win today in the consolation rounds of the preseason NIT would only help matters for UNT, which appears to be finding its groove and getting healthy at just the right time.
The Mean Green will take on IUPUI at 3:30 p.m. today and then face Virginia on Tuesday. Both games will be played in Charlottesville, Va.
Forward Jacob Holmen and backup guard Clarke Overlander are getting close to being full speed, while Justin Patton, another backup forward, is working his way back from a knee injury.
“We are starting to get our team back,” UNT head coach Tony Benford said. “Jacob Holmenis getting back to 100 percent; Justin Patton is eventually going to get healthy. We are going to be a different team than we were at the beginning of the season.”
UNT will need to play well in what could be two challenging games. IUPUI is 2-2 and lost its last game to Bradley.
Mitchell Patton, a 6-foot-9 center, leads IUPUI with an average of 16.5 points a game, while John Hart, a senior guard who transferred from Purdue, is posting 15.8 points a game.
Patton will match up with UNT star forward Tony Mitchell, who is averaging 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game to lead four UNT players who also are averaging double figures. Jordan Williams is adding 13.0 points a game.
UNT is hoping that quartet will help it continue to build on the progress it has made since early in the season.
“This is what we wanted to see and how we expected to play,” point guard Chris Jones said following UNT’s win over Cameron last week. “We gave everyone what they wanted to see.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .