DENTON — For the first time since the 1975-76 season, the Mean Green basketball team is 6-0 after beating Maryland Eastern Shore 68-34 Saturday night at the Super Pit.
The 34 points allowed by North Texas (6-0) is the fewest points given up in program-history since they beat Midwestern State 60-30 in 1947.
"We know there will be nights where you don't see the ball go through the net," said UNT head coach Grant McCasland
. "That's why we put value in the defensive end. I'm proud of our guys for doing that."
North Texas, which is the only 6-0 team in the country, held the Hawks' (0-4) top offensive option, AJ Cheeseman, to just two points on 1-of-7 shooting. McCasland said Cheeseman was a huge point of emphasis in the practices leading up to the game and was proud of not only his players for executing the game plan but also his coaching staff for coming up with a plan that worked to perfection.
Offensively, the Mean Green were led by 6-foot-10 sophomore Zachary Simmons
who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds and sunk his first 3-point attempt of his career.
Simmons entered Saturday's game with one of the highest shooting percentages (.742) in the country for an everyday starter, and once again was efficient, making 7-of-9 from the field including a couple thunderous dunks. Along with being productive in scoring, McCasland was proud of his forward's progression in understanding the offense.
"He's got a great feel for the game," McCasland said of Simmons. "He made great decisions. He finished with two assists but he could have finished with more if we hit some more shots but I'm proud of him for sure."
In addition to holding Maryland Eastern Shore's post player to two points — he entered Saturday averaging 18 points per game — they contained the Hawks' sharpshooter, Ryan Andino, to just five 3-point attempts. Andino was averaging 12 attempts per game before Saturday. Andino finished Saturday's game with a team-high 11 points but on 3-of-7 shooting.
The win propels UNT to its best start since Bill Blakeley's inaugural season as the team's head coach in 1975. That North Texas team started the year with wins over Baylor and Creighton on the road and finished 22-4. They did lose their their seventh game of the year, which came against Utah State at a tournament in Oklahoma City.
This year's Mean Green team hosts Maine next, on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., and will look to be the first 7-0 North Texas team since the 1968-69 team, which was coached by Dan Spika and finished 15-10.
- North Texas never trailed on Saturday versus the Hawks and hasn't trailed in the last 155 minutes and 57 seconds of game action. The last time they trailed was in the opening seconds of its game versus Portland in Hawaii, three games ago.
- Junior Ryan Woolridge had five steals on Saturday to increase his career total to 105 and move him into 10th all-time in program history.
- Redshirt sophomore and Arkansas State transfer Jahmiah Simmons' eight rebounds on Saturday were a UNT career-best.