North Texas entered a new era yet again Thursday.
The Mean Green's first game of the season marked the debut of new coach Grant McCasland. Their third game brought a much less desirable beginning -- the Mean Green's first game without freshman guard Umoja Gibson.
UNT lost one of its most exciting newcomers for the year Monday when he broke his ankle in a loss to Nebraska.
The Mean Green had several players pitch in to fill the void in a 90-78 win over Bethune-Cookman at the Super Pit.
Roosevelt Smart scored a game-high 22 to lead four players who finished in double figures for the Mean Green (2-1).
"It's going to take some time to figure it out," McCasland said of playing without Gibson. "I can't tell you one part of our team that is not going to take some time to figure out, to be honest. Everyone is so new and is playing so hard. I don't know if we know exactly what we are doing half the time, but it's not for a lack of effort."
Losing Gibson didn't help with the learning process. The former Waco University High standout scored 19 points in UNT's opening win over Eureka College.
UNT lost Gibson just 15 minutes into the second start of his career at Nebraska when Husker center Jordy Tshimanga fell on top of him.
"Mo is aggressive and helps us defensively," UNT guard A.J. Lawson said. "The biggest adjustment is making the tough plays. Mo is tough and lays his body on the line."
Gibson gave UNT a second ball handler and tough defender to complement starting point guard Ryan Woolridge.
UNT turned to Lawson and Jorden Duffey off the bench to handle the ball more and fill the all-around role Gibson claimed early in his time with the Mean Green.
UNT struggled early without Gibson before finding a groove late in the first half after Bethune-Cookman (1-2) came back from a nine-point deficit to pull within 30-28. Shane Temara worked his way free under the basket for a dunk that sparked a 12-2 run that Roosevelt Smart capped with a conventional three-point play.
UNT led 42-33 at halftime and quickly pulled away after the break.
"We got stop-score-stops," Smart said. "That led us to getting easy baskets in transition and allowed us to get fouled and get free throws. We moved the ball, didn't hold it, were aggressive and got to the line."
UNT did it all without Gibson, which may have been the best sign of all.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.
North Texas 90, Bethune-Cookman 78
BETHUNE-COOKMAN (1-2) - Diakite 4-6 2-2 10, Davis 5-10 2-6 12, Maitland 4-12 1-2 12, Bailey 4-12 2-4 11, Tabb 5-16 7-7 20, Collins 0-3 0-0 0, Altidort 2-6 0-0 4, Smith 3-4 1-2 7, Mainzie 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 28-73 15-23 78.
NORTH TEXAS (2-1) - Temara 5-11 0-0 11, Woolridge 7-12 4-10 18, Lawson 7-15 3-4 19, Smart 5-7 11-13 22, Holston 3-6 2-2 9, Duffy 1-2 0-0 2, Arikawe 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 2-5 3-4 7, Simmons 0-1 2-4 2, Draper 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 25-37 90.
Halftime - UNT 42-33. Three-point goals - BC 7-27 (Diakite 0-1, Davis 0-1, Maitland 3-7, Bailey 1-5, Tabb 3-8, Collins 0-3, Altidort 0-2) UNT 5-18 (Temara 1-4, Woolridge 0-2, Lawson 0-2, Smart 1-2, Holston 1-2, Duffy 0-1, Miller 0-2) Fouled out - Bailey, Altidort, Simmons Rebounds - BC 45 (Davis 14) UNT 43 (two tied, 7). Assists - BC 7 (Two tied, 2), UNT 10 (Miller 4) Total fouls - BC 27, UNT 22 Technical fouls - Bailey. A - 2,013.