SAN ANTONIO — Jordan Williams talked with his mother, Angela Williams, on the phone before what was almost certain to be a milestone moment in his college career Thursday when North Texas took on Texas-San Antonio.
Williams entered the night needing just four points to become the 21st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career.
“My mom called me before the game and told me that if I was going to get 1,000 to go ahead and get it with a dunk,” Williams said.
Williams followed those instructions perfectly, picking up a steal near halfcourt just after halftime and launching himself into the air for a thunderous dunk, one of the highlights of UNT’s 71-62 come-from-behind win over the Roadrunners at the Convocation Center.
The win extended UNT’s winning streak to four games, tying the Mean Green’s season-best run and bolstering the team’s hopes to earn a bye in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament next month in El Paso.
Williams, who missed the second half of his freshman year when he was academically ineligible, reached the mark in just 79 games.
“It feels amazing to get 1,000 points because I didn’t play the second half of my freshman year,” Williams said. “To get there in 2 1/2 years is pretty good.”
What made the accomplishment all the more enjoyable is that it came at a time Williams is playing at his best and leading a late run by the Mean Green.
UNT (15-13, 6-8) began the week tied for ninth place in C-USA with Charlotte and Florida Atlantic. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the year will receive a double bye in the conference tournament, while the next five teams will get a first-round bye.
“This is a really big win,” UNT guard Chris Jones said. “I don’t know how the standings will look, but they will look good after this win.”
UNT came out of the night alone in ninth place after FAU and Charlotte lost their midweek games.
The Mean Green moved up largely because of a balanced offensive attack that helped spark a second-half comeback that pushed UNT past UTSA (8-19, 4-10).
Williams led UNT with 14 points, while Brandan Walton and T.J. Taylor added 13 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench.
Jones also helped spark UNT’s comeback by dishing out all six of his assists in the second half while moving into a tie for 10th in program history for single-season assists with Josh White at 116.
Jones’ second-half surge helped UNT come back from a slow start and recover after UTSA broke open what was a close game in the early going with a 13-1 run. James Williams and Keon Lewis hit 3s to highlight the run that put the Roadrunners up 27-19.
Edrico McGregor and Lewis led UTSA with 13 points apiece and helped the Roadrunners push their lead to as many as 10 points late in the first half before settling for a 32-24 lead at halftime.
UNT shot just 34.8 percent (8-for-23) from the field in the first half and went 1-for-9 from 3-point range before the break.
The Mean Green also struggled to contain McGregor and Phillip Jones, the Roadrunners’ other key forward. The pair combined for 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half.
UTSA scored 20 points in the paint to just six for UNT.
“The ball was sticking in the first half,” UNT coach Tony Benford said. “We had three assists and six turnovers in the first half. I told C.J. we had to share the ball and get out in transition.”
That is just what UNT did in the second half. The Mean Green opened the half with a 6-0 run and later used a 14-4 surge to take a 61-55 lead.
UNT cruised the rest of the way.
“In the second half, we did a good job defensively,” Benford said. “Chris Jones and Jordan Williams set the tone.”
Williams was able to enjoy his big night because of it. The Dallas native traditionally is at his best in the second half of the season and entered the night averaging 14.7 points since Jan. 1 and 12.4 points on the year.
“Jordan has been good for us,” Benford said. “He had a lot of pressure on him this year. He has settled down and is playing as good as anyone in our league right now.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.
North Texas 71, Texas-San Antonio 62
NORTH TEXAS (15-13, 6-8) – Flannigan 1-2 1-4 3, Voss 1-3 3-3 5, A. Williams 2-6 3-3 7, Jones 2-6 0-1 4, J. Williams 6-11 1-2 14, Vaughns 1-3 3-4 5, Aniefiok 2-8 1-5 7, Walton 4-7 4-6 13, Taylor 4-6 1-3 10, Gaines 1-1 0-2 2, Coleman 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 24-53 19-32 71.
UTSA (8-19, 4-10) – Jones 2-5 2-4 6, McGregor 6-6 1-2 13, Agusi 5-10 2-6 12, Sims 1-6 1-2 4, Lewis 4-10 3-3 13, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Thomas 1-3 2-2 5, O’Brien 1-1 0-0 2, Matthews 1-3 0-0 2, Sherman 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-50 11-19 62.
Halftime – UTSA 32-24. Three-point goals – UNT 4-15 (Flannigan 0-1, J. Williams 1-2, Vaughns 0-1, Aniefiok 1-5, Walton 1-4, Taylor 1-2), UTSA 5-19 (Sims 1-5, Lewis 2-7, J. Williams 1-2, Thomas 1-2, Matthews 0-1). Fouled out – P. Jones. Rebounds – UNT 35 (Walton 7), UTSA 32 (Agusi 9). Assists – UNT 12 (Jones 6), UTSA 11 (Agusi 5). Total fouls – UNT 18, UTSA 22. A – 878.