North Texas Daily

Clutch stats back up close game success for men’s basketball

Clutch stats back up close game success for men’s basketball

February 14
15:27 2018

Men’s basketball is seemingly always in close games. In fact, so far in Conference USA play, literally every game has come down to the wire. All 12 games North Texas has played in C-USA have been within six points at least once in the final five minutes of regulation.

There could be a few reasons for this. The one I believe to be most prominent is the fact that North Texas is a young team that just plays hard.

When they are better than a team, they can struggle to pull away, which happened in their first game against Rice University and also against Florida Atlantic University. It even happened against the University of Alabama at Birmingham when the Blazers nearly fought back to pull within one possession late.

When facing a team with more talent and experience, though, they fight and scrap their way into games through effort and sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart’s instant offense. This was the case against Old Dominion University and Middle Tennessee State University.

I did some research to track every minute this team has played in C-USA action during what basketball stats deem “clutch time,” which is when a game is within five points in the final five minutes. Some of the information is fascinating and some is what you may expect, but either way, here are the numbers I found. These numbers are by no means official, but I trust my several hours and days of research more than enough to present them.

In the 12 conference games North Texas has played in, 11 have had clutch time stats. The only exception was the loss against the University of Southern Mississippi. The recent UAB game only had one second where the score was at five, but it counts.

In those 11 games, the team has played 47:13 in the clutch. That’s more than an entire regulation game. Ten of those minutes came against Florida International University when the Mean Green played five clutch minutes in regulation then five more in overtime.

In these 47:13 of play, North Texas has scored 97 points and has allowed 80 points to opponents, equalling a +17 rating in the clutch, which is pretty exceptional. If the numbers were compressed into a 40-minute regulation game, North Texas would outscore its opponents 82.6 to 68.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we practice hard every day,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “I think the physicality and the effort in those games has been high. It’s those effort plays that separate you and hopefully the cumulative effort allows us to separate ourselves in those [close] games.”

In this time, North Texas is shooting 46 percent on 23-of-50 shots. Their averages in conference play are 55.7 field goal attempts per game on 43 percent shooting.

On 3-pointers, the Mean Green are shooting 12-of-26, more than 46 percent, which is impressive considering the other team is at their peak in defensive intensity. Also, on the free throw line, North Texas is 38-of-58, 65.5 percent, which is actually a slight improvement for the team.

Among individuals, the offense shrinks more than usual as Smart and sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge account for 68 of the 97 points by way of points and points off their assists. That is over 70 percent of the offense produced by the two electric sophomores. This should not surprise people, though, considering how good they have been in these situations.

Smart is 5-of-11 on 3-pointers and is 15-of-16 on free throws in the clutch, while Woolridge is only 2-of-5 shooting but has 10 assists in the 47:13. Both are the only players on the team to have played in every clutch minute so far this season.

A few other players who standout are sophomore guards A.J. Lawson and DJ Draper along with junior guard Allante Holston.

Lawson is 4-of-9 from the field and has scored 13 points in just over 35 minutes, and McCasland also mentions his late-game ability to draw charges. Draper is second on the team in total points in the clutch with 17 points on 4-of-8 3-point shooting as well as two assists for two 3-pointers.

Holston has only scored five points, but has grabbed the most offensive rebounds, three, and has played the fourth most minutes with 26:42 — barely more than Draper.

It seems like a safe bet to assume this team will continue to play in close games down the stretch of conference play. And now, when they do, you all will know how they fare in those situations.

Featured image: Sophomore guard Michael Miller (23) passes the ball to A.J. Lawson (1). Madison Gore 

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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