27-25 UNT leads with 7:45 to go, Mean Green shooting well, BYU having a hard time finishing around the bucket #byuhoops
— Andrew Perkins (@coachamp) December 4, 2013
That was the scene at the under 8 time out in the first half. North Texas was hanging with BYU, matching run for run and shot for shot. They hit a couple threes and got to the basket with relative ease. The UNT bench was gettin’ buckets like they do, with 14 of the 27 points. In essence, UNT was doing what I saw them do in all their YouTube highlight videos. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t keep it up. The Cougars tightened up the zone and Tyler Haws did his Tyler Haws thing. On the break, Haws stopped on a dime from a full sprint to hit a 3-point jumper for the 28-27 lead . BYU continued to surge ahead to take a 42-35 lead into the break.
And then the 2nd half came.
To his credit, UNT Coach Tony Benford knew what the Mean Green had to do, and he said as much during his interview at half-time. They needed to attack the zone and keep the ball moving on offense, and they needed to hurry back on defense.
The Cougars, though, had other plans. They came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. BYU upped the defensive pressure and attacked the glass and the rim. In the second half, the Cougars ran to a 16-0 advantage in fastbreak points, highlighted by an alley oop to Eric Mika and a left-handed posterizer by Frank Bartley IV. After the Cougars’ 7-0 run to start the half, North Texas showed some fight and cut the lead back down to single digits, but BYU just kept the pressure on and ended up taking full control of the game. The end result – BYU 97 UNT 67.
The Cougars outran the Mean Green on the fastbreak for a 26-2 point advantage.
Matt Carlino got a less common double double with 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He scored 5 points.
On the flip side, Carlino also had 7 turnovers.
BYU’s Skyler Halford finally got shots to fall to the tune of 5-7 for 16 points. He was 3-5 from deep after being 2-12 on the season.
UNT had a +3 turnover advantage (12-15), but lost the points off turnovers battle 18-12.
BYU was +22 on the boards, with a +5 on the offensive glass. BYU got 13 second chance points to UNT’s 5.
The Cougars had a 58-30 advantage on points in the paint.
Tyler Haws led all scorers with 23.
Maurice Aniefiok netted 11 points on 4-7 shooting for the Mean Green. He also grabbed 6 rebounds. In 11 minutes.
UNT’s Vertrail Vaughns had 9 points in a solid first half, but he ended the game with 9 points.
Cougar freshman Eric Mika got his first double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
North Texas has potential to be a player in the Conference USA race. They won’t win a regular season championship, but they could get hot and make a conference tournament run. I’ll be interested to see how they do at Charlotte on January 18th. They have a lot of raw potential and a lot of fight in them. They didn’t back down when BYU came out hot after the half. If they can work on playing as a cohesive unit and moving the ball effectively, Coach Benford will have a really good squad as the season moves on.
Collin Voss and Keith Coleman need to get after it. Coleman did a solid job tonight, with 6 boards and 3 blocks, but Voss was ineffective with 2 points and 3 rebounds. In my first time seeing Coleman, the eye test tells me he could be beastly down low on both ends. The 3 blocks reflect that. I’m thinking he could do even more than he’s doing.
The Cougars had a great start against Wichita State, which was encouraging because of games like UNT vs. BYU. The first half against UNT was average until the end of it, The first half defensive effort against Utah State was lackluster, and even Mt. Saint Mary’s hung with the Cougars in the first half. BYU cannot afford to start games being sluggish. Especially on defense. St. Mary’s or Gonzaga will torch them. San Diego, LMU, and Portland might as well. And who knows what Cole Dickerson would do to the Cougars in such a situation.
I’ve never seen so many dunks in my 10+ years of BYU fandom. Up until now, Travis Hansen was the most explosive player I’d seen in a BYU uniform. Eric Mika, Kyle Collinsworth, and Frank Bartley IV can all get up in the air with relative ease. Maybe I’m getting too geeked up about Bartley IV’s dunk over Maurice Aniefiok, but dunks like that used to be few and far between in the Marriott Center.
At least for tonight, Skyler Halford is the player we expected him to be – instant offense and effort off the bench. In all honesty, I was starting to doubt it. A lot of his shots this year have been way off, as if he were nervous and rushing his shooting motion. I am curious to see if he’ll continue to provide the same insta-offense as he did tonight. The Cougars need somebody to score off the bench. Last game it was Bartley. This game it was Halford. Winder can do it. Somebody just needs to be consistent so BYU gets consistent bench production.
As reported by BYU Athletic Communications, Dave Rose said after the game – “It was one of our better nights of the season as far as the way we rebounded the basketball.” The Cougars owned the glass. He’s right. This Saturday, they travel to Springfield to take on UMass, and they’ll need the same effort and attitude in order to leave Massachusetts with a big W.
My prediction BYU 92 UNT 75
Final score BYU 97 UNT 67
I’ll take it.
Sunday, December 15 vs. Stephen F. Austin
Saturday, December 7 vs. UMass in Springfield, MA