North Texas goes to 11-1, beating New Mexico 74-65
The Mean Green (11-1) beat the Lobos (5-5) at their own game, slicing through the press and driving the lane at will to consistently create easy baskets.
“We’ve got some tremendous guards,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “We play small obviously. “They’re long and athletic and they put you in a lot of predicaments. We turned the ball over. But I thought it was our ability to handle when those things went bad to not let it get worse.”
Anthony Mathis led New Mexico with 20 points, including 11-for-11 from the line, but he was 1-for-5 on 3s.
The Mean Green had 16 steals and won the glass 31-29.
“When you turn over the ball that much against a team of this caliber, it’s not going to turn out well for you very often,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said. “Our turnovers, especially our live-ball turnovers, were killers. For us to turn it over that amount of times and just kind of spot them that amount of points, a team of this caliber, it’s really hard to overcome unless you’re having a terrific night everywhere else.”
But North Texas responded with a 10-0 run.
New Mexico finished the first half 1-for-9 inside the arc, making its first 2-pointer at the buzzer to pull within 35-29 at the break.
“In college you can load the paint,” McCasland said. “We gave up 3s early in the game and were bad a couple of times in transition. But from an activity standpoint, we fronted the post and tried to make it difficult for them to go in there. When you can front the post and stack their weak side, it’s hard.
The Lobos closed within 50-46 midway through the second half, but the Mean Green scored the next five to restore a comfortable margin. New Mexico would not get closer than six the rest of the way.
New Mexico’s December has not been one to remember so far as the Lobos suffered through a 3-game losing streak earlier in the month and struggled to put away Central Arkansas, before losing to North Texas.
This was the Mean Green’s first game in 10 days, but they showed little rust early in what was expected to be one of their toughest outings. North Texas’ 11-1 start is its best since the 1976-77 season.
“We try to dictate tempo and it’s not always easy to do to them because they speed you up,” McCasland said. “But we had 10 days to prepare. When you have 10 days to prepare for a game like this, then you can have a good set up going into the game. We were able to talk about tempo. You face a team like this on a couple days preparation and it’s a total different ball game.”
With seven assists, Woolridge moved into second in school history with 354.
New Mexico is at home Dec. 22 against Penn, which recently knocked off defending national champion Villanova.
North Texas next plays Arkansas-Pine Bluff at home Dec. 20 in the final tune up before starting Conference USA play Dec. 29 at Rice.