UNT celebration event art

North Texas players celebrate after knocking off Western Kentucky in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament at the Ford Center in Frisco. UNT will honor the team for its C-USA championship and win over Purdue in the NCAA tournament with an event on Thursday night at the Super Pit.

North Texas isn’t done celebrating a landmark moment in the history of its athletics program quite yet.

The school will host an event beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Super Pit honoring coach Grant McCasland and his team that is just days removed from knocking off Purdue in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The celebration is free and open to the public.

UNT’s win over Purdue was its first in the NCAA tournament in program history and the culmination of a journey that began when McCasland was hired in the spring of 2017 to take over a program that had gone five seasons without finishing above .500.

“If I told you we didn’t plan to do this, I’d be lying,” McCasland said after UNT pulled away from Purdue in overtime for a 78-69 win. “Those guys in that locker room came here for this reason, to play in the NCAA tournament and to win.”

McCasland, UNT athletic director Wren Baker and players are expected to speak at the event that will offer fans a chance to relive a remarkable postseason run.

The Mean Green recovered from a three-game slide to end the regular season by winning four games in four days in the Conference USA tournament. UNT beat Western Kentucky in overtime in the championship game to earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 2010.

The Mean Green fell to Villanova in the second round after toppling Purdue and finished 18-10.

UNT will hand out commemorative items, including posters, at the event, where fans will have a chance to cut down nets, throw confetti and pose for photos with the C-USA championship trophy.

UNT will open gates A and B at the Super Pit for the festivities and limit capacity to 15% at the venue that seats just short of 10,000. Face coverings are required and social distancing will be enforced as required by university guidelines.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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