North Texas knocks of No. 4 LSU to begin NIT title defense

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 20 Mar, 2024 at 01:28 AM

Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

CJ Noland scored 21 points and North Texas defeated fourth-seeded LSU 84-77 on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT in Baton Rouge, La.

Rubin Jones added 17 points, Jason Edwards scored 16 and Aaron Scott had 14 for the Mean Green (19-14), who are the defending champions of the tournament and will face the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 1 seed Seton Hall and Saint Joseph's in the second round.

Jordan Wright scored 25 points, Trae Hannibal added 15 and Hunter Dean chipped in 11 to lead the Tigers (17-16), who defeated North Texas 66-62 on Nov. 17.

North Texas led by seven points at halftime, but a 3-pointer by Will Baker helped LSU get within four early in the second half. The Tigers got within four twice more before 3-pointers by Scott, Noland, Jones and Rondel Walker helped the Mean Green expand their lead to 62-45 with 10:35 to go.

Mwani Wilkinson answered with a 3-pointer for just the Tigers' second field goal in over five minutes. Wright's 3-pointer pulled LSU within 12 points, and the Tigers got within 12 two more times before consecutive layups by Allen increased the North Texas lead to 74-58 with 4:46 left.

The Tigers got within five and had the ball in the final minute, but Tyrell Ward missed a 3-pointer and Edwards made two free throws for a seven-point lead with 31 seconds left.

Wright scored five straight points and Jalen Reed added a 3-pointer to help the Tigers take a 17-11 lead at the 10:39 mark of the first half.

Jones and Noland made consecutive 3-pointers to produce the first of two more ties. The Mean Green took their first lead during a run of five consecutive points by Jones that gave North Texas a 25-20 lead.

After a layup by Wright, Scott made a 3-pointer and Jones added a layup to give North Texas a 30-22 advantage. Scott's layup with 2:20 to go gave the Mean Green their biggest lead of the first half at 11 points, 38-27.

LSU made just one field goal in the final five minutes of the period, but it did make four free throws to trim its deficit to 38-31 at halftime.

--Field Level Media