North Texas Daily

Explosive second half gets men’s basketball back in the win column

Explosive second half gets men’s basketball back in the win column

February 04
22:57 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

North Texas men’s basketball is back in the win column after clinching a key conference victory tonight at the Super Pit. The Mean Green (8-14, 3-6) defeated the University of Southern Mississippi University 70-54 in its first home game since mid-January, putting an end to its five-game losing streak.

North Texas went 47 percent from beyond the arch, and got big performances from junior guard J-Mychal Reese (19 points) and sophomore forward Jeremy Combs to fuel the victory. Combs scored 14 points, but came one rebound short of his eighth straight double-double.

The team’s chemistry showed on the court with energetic play throughout the game. Fresh off a three game road trip, the Mean Green played an up-tempo game with Southern Miss (7-13, 4-5) early on, going on a 17-6 run to start the first half. A 9-0 Southern Miss run would cut the lead to two before freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown hit back-to-back threes to make the score 23-15 with just over five minutes left in the first half.

North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael (3) drives the baseline against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshman guard Ja’Michael (3) drives the baseline against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. turned the ball over four times in his first seven minutes, but helped the Mean Green out defensively off the bench with three blocks, including the Mean Green’s only swat of the first half. Southern Miss took advantage of those turnovers and put the pressure on the Mean Green with an 11-6 run to end the half.

With 1:26 left in the first half, freshman forward Khalil Fuller fell to the ground hard after a big collision with a Southern Miss player and did not return. North Texas headed to the locker room up 29-26 at the break, but came out firing on all cylinders in the second half.

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese does a cross over against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese does a cross over against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

A two-handed Combs dunk off a Reese assist brought life to the Super Pit and put North Texas up 35-33 early in the second half. Brice threw down another two-handed flush, followed by a mid-range jump shot a couple of possessions later to give the Mean Green a 39-34 lead in the tight matchup.

Then, the Mean Green’s long range shooting heated up again. Junior guard Carrington Ward drained a trey to put the home team up 48-37 with 8 minutes left. Reese connected on a three a few possessions later to put North Texas up 58-45, and a Deckie Johnson made three just a minute later stretched out the Mean Green’s lead to 61-47 with 3:32 left to cap off the win.

North Texas head coach Tony Benford draws up plays during a timeout. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Head coach Tony Benford draws up plays during a timeout. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Next up for North Texas is a Saturday matchup at the Super Pit against Louisiana Tech University (16-5), the third ranked team in Conference USA. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.

Featured Image: Junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) dribbles toward the basket to look for a pass against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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