North Texas Daily

Depth issues persist, but the stars stepped up for men’s basketball against Indiana State

Depth issues persist, but the stars stepped up for men’s basketball against Indiana State

December 07
00:28 2017

With several members of the North Texas men’s basketball team unavailable due to either injury or ineligibility Wednesday, the Mean Green were forced to rely on a rotation of just seven players who played 11 or more minutes.

Sophomore guards Ryan Woolridge, Roosevelt Smart and A.J. Lawson are used to a heavy workload. The trio has been on the court for the better part of every game this season, and there’s a reason why.

But Tuesday night, Woolridge played 44 of the 45 minutes in North Texas 79-76 OT win over Indiana State University. Smart played 41 and Lawson played 38, while freshman Zachary Simmons played 31 minutes – tied for the most of his young career.

The lack of depth may provide problems as the season wears on, but the starters stepped up to deliver another home win Tuesday night.

“With injuries, it’s just caused us to retool some things to get some people minutes,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “Obviously we have a few guys that are carrying a huge load.”

Despite taking on that big workload, the Mean Green executed down the stretch against the Sycamores and seemed to play better as the game wore on.

Smart had a monster second half and finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in the win, including 15 and four in the second half. Lawson had 18 points and four assists, hitting a huge 3-point shot at the end of regulation to extend the game.

Woolridge, despite sitting out just one minute in the game, had six assists and no turnovers in his role as the team’s point guard. And then there’s Simmons, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in his extended appearance.

“They’ve put hard work in,” McCasland said. “They’ve worked overtime trying to get better and this is one of those games where you start to get over the hump and see all of the hard work paying off.”

For Lawson, the game-tying shot at the end of regulation was especially rewarding because of his struggles shooting the ball early in the season. Lawson was shooting just 22.2 percent from behind the line entering the game, and spent extra time in practice working to get his shot back to form.

Even after playing 38 minutes, he came up big when North Texas needed it most.

“Shane got a rebound and threw it to me, and I just knocked it down,” Lawson said. “This is a big win and I think it’s the start of something good for us.”

The depth issues are likely not going to improve for at least another game. But if the Mean Green continue to get that kind of production out of Smart, Lawson, Woolridge and Simmons – with senior Shane Temara (18 points in 26 minutes) playing efficiently as well – it may not matter.

“Yeah, I, mean I’m a little banged up,” Smart said. “But I just tried to do whatever I could to help the team get a win.”

Featured Image: Sophomore Guard Ryan Woolridge (0) passes the ball in a game against Indiana State University. Madison Gore

About Author

Brady Keane

Brady Keane

Brady Keane is the Sports Editor of the North Texas Daily. He previously served as Deputy Sports Editor (Jan. 2017-May 2017) and as a Staff Writer (Aug. 2015-May 2016).

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