In need of a signature win in the Tony Benford era, the North Texas basketball team went into Reed Arena and rolled Texas A&M with blistering shooting and stifling zone defense in a 61-41 victory on New Year’s Eve.
In a word, North Texas executed. The Mean Green (8-5) zone confounded the Aggies (8-4) offense, which shot just 30.0 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers. On the other end of the floor, the NT offense made it look easy with 51.0 percent shooting and a 14-2 edge in fast-break points.
The victory broke Texas A&M’s three-game win streak over the Mean Green. NT last defeated the Aggies in 1999 in Denton, but hasn’t won in College Station since 1966.
"It was just our night tonight," Benford said. "I am just proud of our guys and the effort that we gave. I thought we did a good job throughout the 40 minutes of being tough. We did a solid job on the defense keeping them out of the paint, contesting their shots and rebounding the ball."
The Aggies cut the Mean Green lead to 10 points with 8:40 on the second-half clock, but Jordan Williams was able to quiet the crowd with a driving jumper from the free throw stripe. The junior’s shot spurred a 12-0 run that stole took all the drama from the contest.
Maurice Aniefiok posted a game-high 16 points and six rebounds, and his shots from deep got the Mean Green going early. He hit his first three 3-pointers, and was 4-of-6 for the game.
The Aggies led 10-4 just three minutes into the game, but T.J. Taylor tied things at 10 apiece moments later. Texas A&M wouldn’t lead again as NT out-scored the Aggies, 32-9, for the rest of the half. NT went into the break with a 36-19 edge.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
Entering today’s game, Texas A&M was leading the all-time series with the Mean Green, 10-8, including an 8-3 mark in College Station.
North Texas has now won two of its last three road games at SEC schools. NT downed LSU at the Pete Maravich Center, 75-55, in Dec. of 2010.
The victory was the 20th in head coach Tony Benford’s 45-game career at NT. He becomes just the fourth fastest NT coach to that milestone since World War II.
North Texas is 8-0 this year when holding its opponents under 45 percent shooting.
The Mean Green held the Aggies to 30.0 percent shooting from the floor, which is the lowest by an NT opponent since Arkansas State shot 25.0 percent in Feb. at the Super Pit.