DENTON — The University of North Texas Mean Green men’s basketball team picked up a win in its first American Athletic Conference home game with a 70-56 victory over Tulane on Saturday afternoon.
The Mean Green built a double-digit lead late in the first half and held on for the win behind 37 points from sophomore guard Jason Edwards despite struggling against Tulane’s full-court press in the second half.
Tulane worked its way to an 8-7 lead at the first media timeout as North Texas fought through some early ball security and free throw shooting issues. However, the Mean Green took control of the game with its three-point shooting. The team went on a 9-2 run to create some breathing room behind a 22-point half from Edwards, who made his first eight shot attempts, and finished the half with a 7-0 scoring burst to take a 38-28 lead into the locker room.
“Personally, as soon as I make one, [and] even if I miss one, I feel like I’m hot,” Edwards told the media postgame. “So, I don’t feel like it was anything out of the ordinary for me, but I definitely felt extreme confidence today every time I shot it.”
North Texas led by as many as 16 in the second half, but Tulane’s full-court defense created chaos and caused seven turnovers as the Green Wave cut the lead to seven with 5:20 remaining in the game.
Tulane had clamped down on Edwards defensively for most of the second half, forcing the Mean Green to turn to other players for offense. Junior guard CJ Noland stepped up with nine points in the second half, including eight in the final minute to help put the game away.
Noland finished the game with 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while forward Robert Allen had a game-high 16 rebounds, and Aaron Scott added 10 points and 12 rebounds for UNT. Tulane forward Collin Holloway led the Green Wave with 17 points.
WHAT TO KNOW
— North Texas hosted Tulane in Denton as the two schools met on the basketball court for just the third time on Saturday and the first time since 2014. UNT won 70-56 to pick up its first win against the Green Wave.
— The Mean Green is now 9-5 on the season and 2-0 through its first two games of American Athletic Conference play.
— North Texas has now won 15 consecutive home games, its longest streak since 2011.
— UNT was without guards John Buggs III and Rubin Jones due to injury. Head coach Ross Hodge told the media both players were “day-to-day.”
BY THE NUMBERS
— UNT’s scoring defense entered Saturday ranked fourth in the country, allowing 59.2 points per game, and Tulane — scoring 85.6 points per game — became the seventh team to score under that mark against the Mean Green this season.
— North Texas entered the game shooting 36.9% from three-point range this season and made its first seven three-pointers, going 8/11 from behind the arc in the first half. The Mean Green regressed from the perimeter in the second half, making just three of its next 11 three-point attempts.
— Tulane entered the game with five players averaging at least 12.5 points, and UNT kept three of those players to single-digits and four of them under their season average.
— North Texas head coach Ross Hodge on Edwards’s performance: “He was ready to play, and he’s shown the ability to do that in practice and games before. He’s had some 20-point halves, and he has a unique gift of putting the ball in the basket.”
— Hodge on Noland’s play late in the game: “I thought he just keeps getting better. He just keeps improving, and he keeps getting better. He’s so physical, and he is one of those guys who kind of reminds you of a Kai Huntsberry that played for us last year. The longer the game goes, sometimes he can get better, even if it’s a little rocky early, because he can just keep driving the ball, and he’s so physical and made some big free throws. Those one-and-one free throws that he made and that A-Scott made were big shots, and he made some big layups down the stretch as well.”
— The Mean Green (9-5, 2-0 in the AAC) host Temple (7-7, 0-1) at 5 p.m. CT next Saturday at the Super Pit.