DENTON — For the first time in program history, the North Texas basketball team is 15-1.
The Mean Green, who are receiving top 25 national votes, defeated Southern Miss 65-62 at the Super Pit on Saturday to extend their home winning streak to a Conference USA best 13 in a row and break a school-record that has held for 66 years.
"It's something special that the guys on the team can forever say," said head coach Grant McCasland
. "They can say they were part of the only team in North Texas basketball history to start a season 15-1."
North Texas (15-1, 3-0 C-USA), which is the only college basketball team in the country that has six different scorers averaging double digits, saw four of the six score in double figures on Saturday night with senior Jorden Duffy
and junior Roosevelt Smart
leading the way with 11 each.
But it was senior Michael Miller's
final two that not only gave him 10 points on the night but gave UNT the eventual game-winning lead over the Golden Eagles (8-7, 0-3 C-USA).
With 15 seconds left in the game, the Mean Green trailing by one, UNT guard Ryan Woolridge
found Miller along the baseline. Miller then ripped towards the basket, found a crease to the hole as sophomore Zachary Simmons
sealed off a defender and layed it in the hole for the 63-62 lead.
On the following possession for USM, the Mean Green kept the ball out of the hands of Cortez Edwards who finished with a game-high 24 points, and forced point guard Tyree Griffin in to a tough shot that missed everything.
After a change of possession, two Southern Miss fouls to force the Mean Green to shoot free throws with 2.6 seconds left in the game, redshirt freshman Umoja Gibson
sank the Golden Eagles chances of winning by making two free throws and giving him a total of 10 points.
Though Zachary Simmons
and Ryan Woolridge
— the other two UNT players averaging double-digit scoring — didn't finish with 10 or more points they did contribute a ton and finished with eight and nine points, respectively.
"We trust everyone at any given point to step up," Smart said.
A perfect example was in the first half. As Zachary Simmons
left the game for a brief moment, senior Tope Arikawe
stepped up huge. Arikawe had four offensive rebounds in just 10 minutes. He added a defensive rebound and scored five points in his short stint off the bench.
Redshirt sophomore Jahmiah Simmons
was the defender guarding USM's Griffin on their final shot and made it difficult for the 5-foot-10 guard to get a clean shot off.
Griffin entered Saturday's contest averaging just under 13 points per game but was held to six on 3-of-10 shooting versus North Texas.
With the win, North Texas is not only 15-1 for the first time in program history, but they are also 3-0 in conference for the first time since 2007-08.
"Obviously starting 15-1 is awesome but what's most important is we're 3-0 in conference," McCasland said. "We want to win a Conference USA championship."
With the win, North Texas has already matched its regular-season win total from a year ago. They didn't capture win number 15 until March 1. The three-point win on Saturday also improves its record in games decided by five or fewer to 4-0 on the year. They finished last year 7-7 in such games.