Thank goodness for North Texas. That is the sentiment floating around Conference USA this Monday after a weekend that ended with a 5-8 record from Friday through Sunday, and an 0-5 mark on Saturday.
The Mean Green staked themselves to a 27-point lead that allowed them to hang on against a Creighton team whose performance has been inconsistent lately, but at recently as two weeks ago was still receiving votes in the AP Poll. North Texas did a fabulous job on defense, holding the Bluejays to just 34.4 percent shooting from the floor.
UNT was led in scoring by Colin Voss with 16 points and Jordan Williams with 13. The Mean Green out rebounded Creighton 41-34, including the pulling down 33 on the defensive end while Creighton attempted its mad comeback. DeAndre Harris came off the bench to go 3-for-3 from deep to help bury the Jays.
Three near misses highlighted the rest of the weekend. Friday, Vince Hunter had 18 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out as UTEP fell to No. 3 Arizona, 60-55. Hunter gave the Miners a chance to win it, but he had a rough couple of minutes in the second half that ended his night early.
Hunter was called for a foul while going for an offensive rebound with 9:28 to go. Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski made just one free throw to put the Wildcats up 43-41. Hunter was fouled on the next play but missed both of his foul shots.
With 8:35 to go, Tarczewski scored to put Arizona up 45-41. Stanley Johnson followed that up with a steal and Hunter fouled him on the play. That foul, with 8:12 to go, was Hunter's fifth and his night was over.
Western Kentucky played a tough game against No. 4 Louisville before falling 76-67. The Hilltoppers cut the lead to just four points with 5:25 remaining, but they could get no closer. T.J. Price led WKU with 24 points and seven rebounds. D.J. Clayton came off the bench and went 4-for-4 from deep to finish with 14 points.
Keyshawn Woods had 16 points and six rebounds and his shot with less than 10 seconds to go pulled Charlotte within 79-78 of Georgetown. It wasn't enough as the Hoyas pulled it out, 81-78. Mike Thorne, Jr. add 10 points and seven rebounds for Charlotte, who were left shorthanded late in the game as both Pierria Henry and Willie Clayton fouled out of the game. Braxton Ogbueze hit two 3-pointers late in the game to keep the 49ers in it.
Conference USA did get a few other wins over the weekend. Middle Tennessee State beat Chattanooga, 68-58, on Friday and then beat Tennessee State, 65-47, on Sunday. Old Dominion beat Maryland-Eastern Shore 60-43, and UTEP bounced back to beat Alcorn State 78-45.
Jaquez Rozier had 18 points and 5 rebounds against Tennessee State and Giddy Potts had 16 points and 7 rebounds in the win over Chattanooga as MTSU notched two in-state wins.
- T.J. Price of WKU leads the league in scoring with 17.8 points per game. FIU's Dennis Mavin (16.9) is second and Keon Lewis of UTSA is third at 16.6.
- UTEP's Vince Hunter leads CUSA in rebounding with 9.9 boards per game while Marshall's Ryan Taylor is second in the conference with 9.1 rebounds per game. Mike Thorne Jr. of Charlotte is third with 7.6 per game.
- UTEP's Cedrick Lang (.635), Norville Carey of USM (.585) and UNT's Jeremy Combs (.594) lead the league from the field.
- LA Tech's Speedy Smith leads the league with 7.27 assists per game while his teammate, Michale Kyser, leads the way with 3.64 blocks per game.
- Pierria Henry of Charlotte leads the league in steals with 2.27 per game and he is second in assists with 5.82 per contest.
There are six conference games on the tilt for Monday as CUSA teams hope to fare better than they did over the weekend.
Louisiana Tech takes on North Carolina State on Tuesday while UAB heads to Chapel Hill to take on UNC on Saturday. That game will be televised on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. Central.
Old Dominion is up to 41 in the Sagarin Ratings, while UTEP is at 61, and Charlotte is at 80. Massey has ODU at 56, UTEP at 84, Louisiana Tech is at 94, and Charlotte is 101. RealTimeRPI has ODU at 20, UTEP at 38, and Charlotte at 52.