Men's basketball: Mean Green up for challenge today at A&M

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North Texas’ first two opportunities at picking up an attention-grabbing nonconference win didn’t go quite the way the Mean Green planned.

The Mean Green couldn’t sneak past Oklahoma and was later blown out by BYU.

UNT will get a third shot today when it travels to Texas A&M for a 4:30 p.m. game at Reed Arena, the Mean Green’s first game back from its holiday break.

“They will be a challenge,” UNT head coach Tony Benford said. “We took four days off, but have had good practices since.”

UNT (7-5) is hoping that time off will help the Mean Green build on its modest run to close the first half of the season.

UNT beat Central Arkansas and Wayland Baptist earlier this month, giving the Mean Green a winning streak for just the second time this season. UNT also won three straight in late November, a run that came between a 95-82 loss to the Sooners and a 97-67 loss to the Cougars.

The Mean Green felt like it learned a little more about its team during that modest run when junior forward Colin Voss posted back-to-back double-doubles. Voss finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Wayland Baptist just four days after scoring 13 points and corralling 11 rebounds against UCA.

Voss missed a month with a torn quad earlier this season and is starting to feel more comfortable in UNT’s system.

“Colin is starting to get into a rhythm and is getting a feel for what we are doing,” Benford said. “He is starting to understand where he can score from. He is a good mid-range shooter.”

UNT will need Voss to continue his recent surge against A&M (8-3), which will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Oklahoma in its last game on Dec. 21.

Junior forward Kourtney Roberson is averaging 12.8 points a game, while junior guard Jamal Jones is adding 10.0 points an outing for A&M.

In an interesting twist, Jones and UNT guard Maurice Aniefiok played together for a year at Ole Miss before both transferred.

“I haven’t seen him in a year,” Aniefiok said. “I have heard that he has said he is going to get after me, but it’s not about us. It’s about North Texas and Texas A&M.”

Specifically, it’s about which team will pick up a win and a little momentum heading into conference play.

UNT’s game against A&M will be its second-to-last outing before it opens Conference USA play at home against Southern Miss on Jan. 9. The Mean Green will take on UC Riverside in its last nonconference game on Saturday.

Voss feels good about the way UNT’s prospects heading into that stretch after a few days away.

“We are excited to get the second half of the season going,” Voss said. “The break was good for us. It let us refresh and spend time with the family.”

UNT fares well academically

UNT performed well in the first semester of the school year academically, Benford said.

All of UNT’s players are eligible

“Our guys did a great job in the class room,” Benford said. “We have the best GPA we have had in four years. I am really pleased with the job guys like Chris [Jones] and Jordan [Williams], who were ineligible the year before I got here, are doing. All of our guys are doing well.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.


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