North Texas Daily

Creighton routes North Texas, snaps men’s basketball win streak

Creighton routes North Texas, snaps men’s basketball win streak

December 22
13:01 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Last season, North Texas pulled off the upset when hosting Creighton University at the Super Pit. But this year when traveling to Omaha, Nebraska in hopes of the same outcome on Monday night, early foul trouble and a lack of interior presence doomed the Mean Green (4-8) in a 105-82 defeat.

Led by a career night from senior center Geoffrey Groselle, the Blue jays (8-4) dominated from the outset and built as much as a 25 point lead. But unlike last year when Creighton lived from beyond the arc, the Bluejays controlled the paint and shot 57.1 percent from the field.

Additionally, five Creighton players finished in double figures as North Texas repeatedly failed to find an answer defensively.

“[Groselle] is the best post player we will see all year,” head coach Tony Benford said. “He’s a fifth year senior and he’s seven feet tall. But we didn’t do a good enough job of defending without fouling, and we didn’t defend the post well enough either.”

The first half was a struggle for the Mean Green, as early foul trouble forced Benford go to his bench early. Freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. and graduate forward Eric Katenda both picked up three fouls in the first 20 minutes attempting to guard Groselle.

A byproduct of the fouls was free throw attempts for Creighton. The Blue Jays converted 24 of 29 from the charity stripe before halftime.

“The fouls had a big impact on the defense, but I feel like we could have battled a little harder,” sophomore forward Jeremy Combs said. “We just have to keep getting better. That’s it.”

With its two tallest players sidelined, North Texas was forced to revert to a zone defense to protect the paint and guard the perimeter. But the Bluejays had an answer, penetrating and finding the open man for easy baskets.

The lack of size also resulted in the Mean Green getting out-rebounded 23 to 13 and taking a 54-39 deficit into the intermission.

“It’s hard to guard them when they have so many scorers and so many guys who can make plays,” junior guard J-Mychal Reese said. “We tried to switch it up and give them different looks. Our zone slowed them down a little bit but we just didn’t guard without fouling.

But the hill was too steep for the Mean Green and the deficit continued to mount in the second half. After a scramble for a loose ball ended in a transition dunk for Creighton, the wheels started to come off as the Blue jays took its biggest lead of the game.

Benford said, despite the struggles, there were several bright spots to be taken from this game, including the production of the offense. Reese led North Texas in scoring and poured in 20 points while dishing out five assists.Junior guard Deckie Johnson also continued his hot streak and finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists.

He has now scored 42 points in the last two games.

“Deckie is obviously playing really well right now,” Benford said. “Our offensive flowed well at times tonight. But you play games like this to get better. I thought we played hard. We just have to play smarter.”

Next Up: North Texas will have a week off before its next game against Sam Houston State University on Tuesday Dec. 29. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. at the Super Pit.

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