Early foul trouble hinders men’s basketball offense in loss to Idaho

Early foul trouble hinders men’s basketball offense in loss to Idaho

North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown (3) dishes a pass from the paint to the perimeter for an assist against Idaho. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Early foul trouble hinders men’s basketball offense in loss to Idaho
November 24
13:19 2015

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

The Mean Green men’s basketball team came flying into tonight’s game with an undefeated record and the highest scoring offense in the nation – until Idaho out-hustled and out-muscled North Texas (2-1) throughout the game.

The visiting Vandals (3-1) roughed up North Texas early, getting the home team into foul trouble to set the pace of the game. Junior guard Deandre Harris committed three quick fouls in the game’s first 12 minutes, one of them a technical foul after exchanging words with an Idaho player.

North Texas junior point guard J­Mychal Reese (52) drives on the baseline for a two point layup against Idaho. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

North Texas junior point guard J­-Mychal Reese (52) drives on the baseline for a two point layup against Idaho. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

“That really hurt us when he went out,” head coach Tony Benford said. “He’s got to keep his emotion in check because that gets us into trouble.”

The Mean Green struggled to play clean early on, with forwards Khalil Fuller and Eric Katenda and guards Deckie Johnson and Ja’Michael Brown all getting multiple fouls in the first half. The early fouls forced Benford to make early substitutions, bringing in freshman 7-foot center Rickey Brice Jr into the game after not dressing up during warm ups.

The center, who sprained his ankle in practice last week, recorded two quick blocks on consecutive plays moments after hitting the floor.

“We didn’t think Rickey was going to play. He was in a boot,” Benford said. “At 7:30 this morning, the doctor saw swelling in his ankle. He came to me when I was in the locker room getting dressed and he said, ‘Coach I want to play.’ I thought he did a good job of helping us inside.”

Brice’s spark defensively wasn’t enough for North Texas, as the Vandals had 16 more attempted free throws and more free throws made, 22, than the Mean Green attempted all night, 20.

North Texas freshman center Rickey Brice (23) celebrates during a timeout after a block against Idaho. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

North Texas freshman center Rickey Brice (23) celebrates during a timeout after a block against Idaho. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

The home team’s perimeter game lacked as well. North Texas made only five threes, good for 27 percent from downtown, after shooting 17 three-pointers in the first two games combined.

“Idaho did a good job of controlling the tempo,” Benford said. “We have a good basketball team. We just have to do the little things to finish games.”

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese had the ball in his hands with the game on the line but missed two shots near the basket in the game’s final minute.

“Being a point guard, you’re pretty much expected to come down and get us into the offense,” Reese said. “I had a few open shots, and if I have that shot, I’ll take it.”

The Mean Green couldn’t handle the Idaho defense throughout the game, turning the ball over 22 times. The team’s effort was not a problem though, according to sophomore forward Jeremy Combs.

“I feel like we played hard. We just have to finish the game,” Combs said. “We have the right team to do it. We just have to be more focused.”

Featured Image: North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown (3) dishes a pass from the paint to the perimeter for an assist against Idaho. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

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