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Men’s basketball: Mean Green loses to Idaho despite Taylor’s 24 points

PORTLAND, Ore. — In a game of runs, it was the Idaho Vandals who landed the biggest punches and came away with an 87-76 victory over North Texas on Friday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

A lightning-quick 3-point barrage from Idaho (3-2) out of the halftime break turned a nine-point game into a 56-36 Vandals lead as just more than three minutes ran off the clock.

The deficit woke up UNT’s T.J. Taylor, who helped North Texas (2-3) respond with a 12-0 run of its own, but it was too little too late.

Taylor wowed the Chiles Center crowd with 24 points in a 24-minute breakout performance. The junior scored 13 straight UNT points late in the Mean Green’s comeback effort, including conventional three-point plays on two consecutive trips down the floor.

Taylor and North Texas put late pressure on the Vandals. A steal led to an Alzee Williams bucket that cut the Idaho edge to 83-76 with 53 seconds left, but the Vandals were able to close the game with 8-of-8 free-throw shooting over the final 1:44.

Taylor easily eclipsed his previous high of two points against Nicholls State.

The night belonged to the Vandals’ Stephen Madison. The senior, who scored his 1,000th career point Thursday night against Portland, poured in a game-high 25 points, including six buckets in the paint in the second half.

The Mean Green will continue play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic regional against the host Portland Pilots at 9 tonight.