CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Since taking over at North Texas six
years ago, head coach Johnny Jones has slowly been putting the
pieces together for a winning program.
That effort may finally be paying off, as the Mean Green
overcame turnovers and foul trouble to beat Charlotte 90-72 on
Sunday to open its season 2-0 for the first time in 12 years.
Kendrick Davis scored a season-high 20 points and four others
also scored in double figures for North Texas, which held off a
second-half rally by the 49ers (1-1).
"We've been fortunate to get some quality young men into our
program, guys who have been able to adapt to our system," Jones
said. "We've got a great combination of guys, and getting off to a
great start like we have has been great for them."
The last time the Mean Green started off with a winning record
was during the 1994-1995 season under then-coach Jimmy Gales, when
North Texas opened with three straight wins.
"I always thought we were a confident ball club, we just hadn't
always put everything together," said Davis, named the Sun Belt
Conference's newcomer of the year last season. "But we're doing a
tremendous job utilizing our bench and playing to our strength.
That's what's working for us."
De'Angelo Alexander scored 25 points for Charlotte, which was
trying for its first 2-0 start since the 2000-2001 season.
But the 49ers -- who opened their season with an 88-28 win over
Hofstra less than 24 hours earlier -- couldn't fully overcome a slow
start, in which they shot 28.6 percent from the field and trailed
by as many as 18 points in the first half.
"It probably had a lot to do with it," said Charlotte guard
Leemire Goldwire, who was named the Atlantic 10 player of the week
earlier Sunday. "We lost our momentum early in the game, and had
to fight to get it back."
Davis had put the Mean Green up 44-26 on a 3-pointer with 2:42
left in the first half, but the 49ers scored nine unanswered points
to pull within nine at 44-35 at the break.
Charlotte managed to cut North Texas' lead to four points three
times in the second half, the last at 64-60 on Goldwire's short
jumper with 8:06 remaining.
But the Mean Green went on a 16-8 run over the next five
minutes, with Michael Sturns' 3-point play with 2:59 left pushing
North Texas' lead back into double digits at 80-68.
The Mean Green then sealed the win by hitting 10-of-12 from the
free-throw line in the final two minutes.
"They played great, and we were a half-step slow at times,"
49ers head coach Bobby Lutz said. "We made a couple runs and made
it close, but they'd come up with some big plays. They had the
answers for us. They deserved to win."
Rich Young scored 16 points for North Texas before fouling out
with less than nine minutes to play. Sturns added 14 points, Calvin
Watson 13 and Ben Bell 11.
Goldwire added 13 points for Charlotte, and E.J. Drayton had his
second straight double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Goldwire earned the A-10 award for the second time in his career
after scoring 26 points and hitting 12-of-12 from the free-throw
line in the 49ers win over Hofstra.
- Eric Anderson
- Bill McCarthy
- Dennis Arinello