North Texas Daily

Benford praises team’s execution of gameplan in men’s basketball win over Nicholls State

Benford praises team’s execution of gameplan in men’s basketball win over Nicholls State

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) backs the defender towards the basket for a layup against Idaho. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Benford praises team’s execution of gameplan in men’s basketball win over Nicholls State
December 15
10:51 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer


Coming into Monday night’s contest against Nicholls State University, North Texas was riding a seven game losing streak, its longest dating back to 2002.

But behind a career high performance from junior guard Deckie Johnson, the Mean Green found the win column. It was the first victory over a division one opponent this year and the first win in nearly a month of play.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that, as a player or coach,” head coach Tony Benford said. “A streak that long. We felt like we gave some of those games away.”

North Texas came out of the gates firing and outscored Nicholls State 41 to 22 in the first half. Junior guard J-Mychal Reese, who poured in 14 points in the win, said the team’s early success should be attributed to their aggressiveness.

“We made it tough on them,” Reese said. “We didn’t let them get easy shots. That really helped us out.”

Reese’s performance was his eighth straight game in double figures. Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs also poured in 19 points and eight rebounds, leading Benford to praise the entire team’s effort.

“They did a great job carrying the game plan from the scouting report to the floor,” Benford said. “I think when you’re on a streak like we were on, you need to know why you’re losing.”

The reason, according to Benford, was the Mean Green’s turnover ratio and inability to rebound the ball. North Texas out-rebounded the Colonels 45-32 and committed nine turnovers.

“Tonight we took care of the ball,” Benford said. “We rebounded the ball. And if you do those things you can win games, I don’t care who you’re playing.”

Graduate forward Eric Katenda said another key element in the win was free throw shooting. North Texas was averaging 60 percent from the charity stripe per game, but shot 73 percent on Monday.

“We were putting a lot more work into our free throw shooting,” Katenda said. “We have guys that can make them and we’ve been working on it in practice. It showed tonight.”

The Mean Green host winless Mississippi Valley State University on Thursday morning before in the final game of its home stand. Benford said North Texas cannot overlook any team and will look to build on its first win in nearly a month.

“I don’t care if they’re 0-20,” Benford said. “We have to get ready to play and continue to try and get better.”

Featured Image: File Photo Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

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