North Texas Daily

Behind a strong second half, men’s basketball extends winning streak to three games

Behind a strong second half, men’s basketball extends winning streak to three games

Sophomore center Rickey Brice (23) points to the air after making a free throw against Texas College. Colin Mitchell

Behind a strong second half, men’s basketball extends winning streak to three games
November 30
15:21 2016

Senior guard J-Mychal Reese was absent Wednesday morning.

Except he wasn’t missing class – Reese was missing North Texas’ game against Texas College to take an exam.

Without their starting point guard for most of the first half, it took 20 for them to warm-up, but the Mean Green (4-3) eventually pulled away for a 73-45 win over the Steers.

“It was difficult dealing with a situation like that,” Benford said. “But he only needs one class to get his degree so this was an important class and one he couldn’t miss.”

It has been a recurring theme for North Texas to come out slow in the first half, but the past three games, the Mean Green have turned it around to come out with a win.

North Texas outscored Texas College 42-22 in the second half.

“We’ll play in spurts where we’ll have some turnovers that create problems for us,” Benford said. “We’ve got to eliminate those and make simple plays. You have to finish those defensive possessions with rebounds.”

The Mean Green had a significant size advantage over Texas College, but only held an eight rebound edge on the glass.

Sophomore seven-footer Rickey Brice Jr. posted his second career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and helped out on the defensive end as well, setting a new career high in blocks as with five.

“I was the tallest man on the court,” Brice said. “Coach told me that there was nobody out there that could stop me. I just did what I was supposed to do.”

North Texas turned the ball over 13 times in the first half while setting a new season high in blocks with seven. Graduate forward Derail Green opened the game with two quick jumpers, but the Mean Green could never pull away from the Steers.

A new team appeared out of the locker room at halftime, though.

Senior guard Deckie Johnson took his play to the next level, finishing with 19 points to lead North Texas in scoring.

The Mean Green defense was staunch in the second half, as Texas College failed to execute on offense. The Steers went over six minutes without a bucket at one point in the second half, and had a dismal day from the floor, shooting just 21 percent.

“We’re getting a lot of confidence,” Johnson said. “Our confidence level keeps building up.”

Johnson and his teammates are feeling good going into Saturday’s crucial match-up with the University of Texas at Arlington. The Mavericks knocked off the University of Texas at Austin on the road on Tuesday, but North Texas is ready for the challenge.

“As you go through a season, guys start to understand their roles a little better,” Benford said. “Once you get going, the roles start forming, and I think everybody is starting to understand what they can do to contribute to us to be successful.”

Next up: The Mean Green host UT-Arlington at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Featured Image: Sophomore center Rickey Brice (23) points to the air after making a free throw against Texas College. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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