DRC_Mean Green

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — North Texas lost 71-59 to No. 4 Kansas Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the ESPN Events Invitational at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

UNT (2-2) was led by newcomer Tylor Perry, who scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

“Give credit to Kansas,” UNT coach Grant McCasland said. “They made it hard on us to shoot 3s and it’s hard to beat a team like that if you’re not hitting 3s. I’m proud of our team’s fight to claw back into it with deflections and forcing 15 turnovers and give ourselves a chance, but they made it very difficult on us.”

After a slow start that saw the Mean Green trail the nationally ranked Jawhawks (4-0) by 13 early, UNT fought back with the strong defensive effort McCasland referenced. UNT pulled within six points (33-27) right before the half after forcing three Kansas turnovers in the final three minutes of the first half.

The six-point deficit was as close as the Mean Green would get from there on out, though, as the low 3-point shooting percentage (4-27) and fouls troubled them in the second half and McCasland’s bench got slim. UNT’s Thomas Bell played just 20 minutes and fouled out with 11:46 left in the game. He finished with nine points. Abou Ousmane finished with just three fouls but had all three in the first half. Hameir Wright picked up his third foul early in the second half.

“We’ll have games where we don’t shoot the ball well and we’ve got to continue to rely on our defense to keep us in the game,” Perry said. “We’ve got to be better tomorrow. We know that.”

Perry, who was the only player Thursday afternoon in to reach the 20-point total, added two steals to his stat line, which was tied for the game high.

In the first half, Perry made a number of acrobatic buzzer-beating baskets that got him in the flow of the game. Midway through the first half, he sank a 30-plus-foot 3-pointer that barely even touched the net as the shot clock went off. A few possessions later, Perry made a tough physical layup at the buzzer again. His 23 points Thursday is a season high, four games into Perry’s UNT career.

With the loss, UNT will face Miami (3-2) at 10 a.m. Friday, also at HP Field House. The Hurricane fell 76-60 Thursday to Dayton. This will be the first all-time meeting between the two schools.

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