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Friday Conference Tournament Primer

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FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 14: Samuell Williamson #10 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs shoots a three pointer during the AAC Men's Basketball Championship - second round game between Temple Owls and SMU Mustangs at Dickies Arena on March 14, 2024 in Fort Worth, Texas. | Photo by Aric Becker/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Thursday’s conference tournament games featured a mixed bag from teams across Texas as more were eliminated.

The Dallas Express covered the afternoon sessions in an earlier update, but here is what happened on Thursday night.

UNT, seemingly healthy for the first time all season, earned a spot in Friday’s American Athletic Conference (AAC) quarterfinals with an 81-71 win over Tulane. Guards CJ Noland and Rubin Jones led four Mean Green players in double figures as they answered each Tulane run with spectacular three-point shooting throughout the game.

“Guards win college basketball games, and we’ve got really good ones,” UNT head coach Ross Hodge explained to the media after the win. “The way they share the ball, the way they trust each other [and] play off each other, you’re going to have a chance most nights because you can put the ball in their hands, and you know good decisions will be made.”

The win earned North Texas another rematch against Florida Atlantic, which has beaten UNT twice this season by a combined seven points.

Meanwhile, SMU allowed 43 points in the second half and lost a halftime lead as No.11 seed Temple eliminated the Mustangs from the AAC Tournament. Guard Chuck Harris led the Mustangs in the first half, but Temple capitalized as he missed much of the second half with an injury.

“They played with confidence, and they played with more fight and more toughness,” SMU head coach Rob Lanier told the media postgame. “We always say going in the games, ‘Who’s going to play the hardest the longest is the team that’s going to prevail?’ And they were that team tonight. They deserve the credit.”

In the Big 12, Baylor overcame a slow start to end Cincinnati’s Cinderella run — claiming a spot in Friday’s semifinal round. The Bears will face Iowa State, with the winner taking on Texas Tech or Houston in Saturday’s championship game.

Texas A&M also began its conference tournament with a much-needed win over Ole Miss. The win moved the Aggies from the “First Team Out” of the NCAA Tournament to the “Last Team In” (for now), according to ESPN’s latest Bracketology update. A&M continues SEC Tournament play against Kentucky on Friday night.

Here is the complete game schedule for the Texas teams remaining on Friday.

AAC – North Texas vs. Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m. CT in Fort Worth

Big 12 – Texas Tech vs. Houston at 6 p.m. CT in Kansas City and Baylor vs. Iowa State at 8:30 p.m. CT in Kansas City

SEC – Texas A&M vs. Kentucky at 6 p.m. CT in Nashville

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