Tony Benford wanted every possible opportunity to get his team into game-like situations before North Texas’ season opener on Friday against Northwood.
Tonight’s exhibition game against Southeastern Oklahoma State at the Super Pit is a key part of the plan. The game will be UNT’s second exhibition of its second season under Benford, coming just three days after the Mean Green knocked off Oklahoma City, an NAIA opponent. UNT pulled away from the Stars late in a surprisingly tight 78-70 win at the Super Pit.
The Savage Storm competes in the NCAA Division II Great American Conference.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Benford said following UNT’s win over Oklahoma City. “That is why I decided to play two exhibition games. I wanted to get out in front of a crowd. We have some new guys and want to get everyone used to game competition.”
UNT had four players finish in double figures in its win over Oklahoma City, including Chris Jones and Jordan Williams, who finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Both are expected to be among UNT’s top players this season.
T.J. Taylor scored 10 points in his UNT debut after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, while Keith Coleman finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Both of Coleman’s totals would have been career highs if they had come in a regular-season game.
Benford is expecting UNT to build on its performance against Oklahoma City tonight, especially now that a few of the Mean Green’s players who didn’t play last season have a game under their belts.
Senior guard Brandan Walton sat out last season after suffering a foot injury in the Mean Green’s season opener, while Maurice Aniefiok also missed the season.
Williams expects UNT to improve its shooting percentage. The Mean Green went 3-for-17 from 3-point range against Oklahoma City.
“We have to get our shots up in practice and on our own time,” Williams said. “We are going to have better shooting nights.”
UNT is hoping one of those nights will come against the Savage Storm, which has already lost to UT-San Antonio and UTEP, a pair of Conference USA teams. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma 80-60, while UTEP won 91-63.
Urald King, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, has led the Savage Storm with an average of 14.5 points a game in its two exhibition games.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.