Mitchell too much for WKU as North Texas routes Toppers

Cole Claybourn

The gameplan was to stop North Texas freshman phenom Tony Mitchell. But even interim head coach Ray Harper acknowledged how much of a struggle that would be.

Mitchell proved to be too much for WKU to handle as he tallied a double-double — 21 points and 13 rebounds — in an 84-67 win over a struggling WKU bunch.

WKU (5-13, 1-4 Sun Belt Conference) held Mitchell in check in the first half with just four points, but allowed guard Roger Franklin to log a career-high 15 points just in the first half. Franklin finished with 20 points and five rebounds.

WKU missed 12 of its first 14 shots in the first half but regained its composure to take an 11-10 lead early. 

The score remained close for most of the first half with North Texas leading by as many as five.

The Mean Green took a 41-37 lead into halftime.

But the second half was all North Texas, more specifically all Mitchell.

WKU hung around for about the first four minutes of the half until the Mean Green blew the game open. Guard Jordan Williams, who finished with 16 points off the bench for North Texas, found Mitchell near the basket to give the Mean Green a 56-46 lead with just under 13 minutes to play.

A Mitchell three-pointer followed by a Williams dunk capped off a 22-8 run to give North Texas a 69-54 lead with 7:14 left to play.

Mitchell put the icing on the cake minutes later with a highlight-reel reverse alley-oop dunk after he was left wide open under the basket.

North Texas led by as many as 20 with just over a minute left to play.

Freshman guard Derrick Gordon set a career-high four made three-pointers, three coming in the first half. He finished with 20 points and three rebounds. Senior guard Kahlil McDonald finished with a career-high 17 points and six reboudns.

Freshman forward George Fant added 14 points and eight rebounds.

WKU also finished with just nine turnover — a season low, and were 7-of-25 from three-point range. North Texas logged 22 assists while WKU tallied just eight.

But North Texas torched the nets to shoot 56.4 percent from the field and 6-of-12 from behind the three-point line.

No WKU players or coaches were made available to the Herald for comment following the game.

WKU needs a win against Denver or Sunday to avoid matching its worst start since the 1976-1977 team, which also started 4-15.

The two teams will tip off at 2 p.m. Sunday in Denver.