North Texas 52

(8-5, 1-1 Sun Belt)

Denver 79

(7-6, 2-0 Sun Belt)

    8:30 PM ET, January 13, 2005

    Magness Arena, Denver, Colorado

    1 2 T
    UNT 23 2952
    DEN 35 4479

    Top Performers

    North Texas: I. Hines 8 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast

    Denver: Y. Nicholson 14 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 5 Blk

    Denver 79, North Texas 52

    DENVER (AP) -- Denver coach Terry Carroll had a simple plan to slow North Texas' perimeter shooters: Force them to put the ball on the floor.

    It couldn't have worked out much better.

    Erik Benzel had 17 points and hit five 3-pointers, and Denver held North Texas to 23 percent shooting in a 79-52 victory over the Mean Green Thursday night.

    "Our whole concept was to put pressure on the perimeter and force them to drive the ball, and have weakside support to help us," Carroll said. "We did that really well in the first half."

    Actually, Denver (7-6, 2-0 Sun Belt) did it for the whole game.

    North Texas (8-5, 1-1) had a miserable night shooting, missing uncontested layups, shooting airballs on open jumpers and even botching a 4-on-1 break. The Mean Green were at least effective from 3-point range, going 7-for-18, but hit just 11-of-58 from inside the arc.

    Leonard Hopkins was the only North Texas player in double figures, scoring 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting.

    "I can't remember us shooting 23 percent or lower. It may have happened, but I'm not sure," North Texas coach Johnny Jones said. "We had some good looks. We missed a lot of layups and a lot of open shots."

    Denver didn't make things any easier in its first home game since Dec. 13. The Pioneers took control with an early 17-0 run and never let up, shooting 50 percent to win its third straight game.

    Yemi Nicholson had his way inside at both ends, with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five of the Pioneers' 12 blocked shots. Rodney Billups was effective at the point without much scoring, finishing with six points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals. Benzel added five assists and four steals.

    "The 17-0 run started because our defensive rebounding picked up," Carroll said.

    North Texas started off impatient and careless -- not a good combination.

    The Mean Green had nine turnovers by halftime -- five on consecutive possessions midway through -- and took plenty of quick shots, prompting Jones to yell "work for the shot" several times.

    North Texas was just 8-for-34 in the first half and went almost nine minutes without a field goal after taking a 6-2 lead. The Mean Green also had seven shots blocked, managing a season-low 23 points by halftime.

    "We weren't poised enough and allowed them to force us out of our offense early," Jones said. "Instead of sticking with it and grinding it out, we developed some bad habits."

    North Texas had plenty of lapses on defense, too.

    The Mean Green tried fronting Nicholson in the post but did a poor job of helping on the weak side, allowing him to hit 4-of-9 shots for 10 points and grab eight rebounds by halftime. The Mean Green also had trouble getting back and allowed plenty of cutters down the lane, particularly during the 17-0 run that put Denver up 19-6 midway through.

    The Pioneers didn't let up in the second half, shooting 56 percent to push the lead to 27 points. Denver wasn't bad on defense, either, holding North Texas to 10-of-42 from the field and breaking up a 4-on-1 when Billups reached over Hopkins and blocked his shot.

    "Defensive pressure and rebounding is what we live off of," Carroll said. "We have to have that every night for 40 minutes for our team to be able to what we are able to do. There is no way we can just outscore people. That's not going to happen."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 52 79
    FG Made-Attempted 18-76 (.237) 30-60 (.500)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-18 (.389) 6-16 (.375)
    FT Made-Attempted 9-14 (.643) 13-20 (.650)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 14 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 27

    2004-05 Season

    » Jan 13, 2005 @DEN 79, UNT 52Recap
    Feb 17, 2005 @UNT 68, DEN 66Recap