The outcome was awfully tough for North Texas to take in its last outing before the Christmas break, when the Mean Green lost a game to SMU that went down to the wire.
A little time off has helped UNT put that game into perspective heading into today’s 2 p.m. showdown with Missouri State at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green made a few mistakes that cost the team late in an 84-79 overtime loss to the Mustangs. UNT (5-6) also showed some signs of progress it hopes to carry over to the second half of the season.
“I wish we would have had the break before the SMU game,” UNT forward Alexis Hyder said. “We started to click in that game. I wish we would have been able to keep going, but I did enjoy the food when I went home.”
UNT coach Mike Petersen pointed out that a college basketball season is an awfully long one. He wanted his players to have a bit of a break and some time to reflect on what they did well over the first few games of the season, not to mention the one area where he says they can improve.
“We have made huge strides from where we were a year ago, when we were 2-10,” Petersen said. “I like how we are playing, but I don’t like how we are finishing.”
UNT has squandered a few late chances to pick up wins this season, dropping four games by seven points or less, and will look to do a better job closing if it gets an opportunity against a Missouri State team that has won three straight, including a milestone win over in-state rival Missouri.
Sophomore guards Kenzie Williams and Tyonna Snow lead Missouri State (4-6) with averages of 17.8 and 11.6 points per game, respetively. Snow had 14 points and Williams 11 in the Bears’ 67-53 win over Missouri on Dec. 19.
UNT will look to Janis Peterson to offset the Bears’ backourt duo. The junior hit six 3s against SMU, a total that ties her for fourth place on UNT’s single-game leaders list.
Peterson’s performance helped put UNT in position to win the game late. UNT had a look at what would have been a game-winning shot, but saw Hyder’s jumper from the lane roll out at the buzzer.
The fact that UNT was that close at the end of the game was a surprise considering SMU built an early 18-point lead.
UNT has focused on what it did right from then on and what it needs to do to close out close games.
“There was a lot that went right against SMU,” UNT forward Acheil Tac said. “We executed our offense and played some good defense.”
UNT will look to build on those positives today against Missouri State.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.