Jorden Duffy
Luke Della

Mean Green Win Big In Rome

UNT Wins 94-51 Over Stella Azzurra

ROME — The Mean Green basketball team played its first of three games in Italy Wednesday afternoon and came away with a 94-51 win over Stella Azzurra, a member of Italy's Basketball Federation Serie B. 

North Texas pressured Stella on the defensive end and forced nine turnovers in the first quarter alone. In total, they forced 37 turnovers, three shot clock violations and had 21 steals. They made 14 of their first 16 from inside the arc and cruised out to a 34-13 lead early in the second quarter. 

Six UNT players scored in double figures, led by senior Jorden Duffy's 15 on 6-of-10 shooting. He also had four steals, which was the second-most behind two Mean Green players that finished with five. 

"We've been working defense a lot the past 10 practices, so how we guarded the ball was a big emphasis," said head coach Grant McCasland. "Since this was our first time really getting on the floor. I was happy with the effort. We have a team that plays really hard, which is a lot what we were looking for."

Junior Ryan Woolridge set the tone early for the Mean Green with two steals in the first few minutes of the game. Woolridge, who finished with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 26 minutes of action, filled up the stat sheet. At the end of the first quarter, Woolridge had eight points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists. 

Woolridge's efforts gave UNT a 23-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and they'd increase that 12-point lead with a monster second quarter from Roosevelt Smart

Smart scored 12 of his 14 points in the second quarter and hit all three of his three-pointers in the second frame as well. He converted on a fast break and-one in the quarter to give UNT a dominating 52-23 lead at the midway point.

"It wasn't easy to get in a rhythm, because I subbed pretty quickly but I thought all the guys responded really well," McCasland said. "I thought we shared the ball really well and as a team defensively we competed hard."

Duffy, who only played 17:30 minutes, played consistent throughout Wednesday's game and got points attacking the rim and hitting open shots. Duffy had to battle through injuries last season but came alive in the College Basketball Invitational tournament, averaging 17.8 points per game. 

For redshirt freshman Umoja Gibson, Wednesday was his first game playing against an opponent that wasn't in a practice setting since Nov. 13, 2017 when he broke his leg at Nebraska in the second game of the year.

Gibson, who was starter before the injury, returned to the starting lineup Wednesday and in 18:30 minutes of work played a complete game. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting and had three assists and three steals. 

For redshirt sophomore Jahmiah Simmons, Wednesday was his unofficial debut with the Mean Green after he had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfers rules. Simmons was most effective in the fourth quarter where he scored all four of his points.

Freshman Larry Wise and junior college transfer Abdul Mohamed also made their UNT unofficial debuts on Wednesday. The two guards saw considerable playing time but found their rhythm in the second half.

Wise was effective on the defensive end late and turned forced turnovers into points while Mohamed hit open jumpers and played physical in the paint against Stella's length.

Wise finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting while Mohamed scored 11 and had seven rebounds. He was also two-of-three from deep.

"To see them here fighting for each other and helping each other to try and win is such a good start to our season," McCasland said.

NEXT UP

The Mean Green play an Italian all-star team on Friday in Florence, Italy

POINTS

J. Duffy: 15 points

R. Woolridge: 14 points

R. Smart: 14 points

A. Mohamed: 11 points

U. Gibson: 10 points

L. Wise: 10 points

D. Draper: 9 points

Z. Simmons: 6 points

J. Simmons: 4 points

M. Miller: 2 points

REBOUNDS
A. Mohahmed: 7 rebounds

L. Wise: 7 rebounds

R. Woolridge: 6 rebounds

Z. Simmons: 4 rebounds

J. Simmons: 2 rebounds

R. Smart: 1 rebound

J. Duffy: 1 rebound

U. Gibson: 1 rebound

D. Draper: 1 rebound

ASSISTS

R. Woolridge: 6 assists

J. Simmons: 3 assists

U. Gibson: 3 assists

D. Draper: 1 ast

J. Murray: 1 ast

A. Mohamed: 1 ast

J. Duffy: 1 ast

3-POINTERS

J. Duffy: 3 3FGs

R. Smart: 3 3FGs

U. Gibson: 2 3FGs

A. Mohamed: 2 3FGs

D. Draper: 1 3FG

J. Simmons: 1 3FG

STEALS

D. Draper: 5 steals

J. Simmons: 5 steals

J. Duffy: 4 steals

U. Gibson: 3 steals

R. Woolridge: 2 steals

A, Mohamed: 1 steal

R. Smart: 1 steal

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