North Texas Daily

Freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. shines in return from injury

Freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. shines in return from injury

February 05
00:06 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

After a close first half, North Texas men’s basketball scored 41 second half points to blow out the University of Southern Mississippi 70-54 at home for its first win in over three weeks. The Mean Green had dropped five games in a row headed into tonight’s matchup, three by double digits.

Adding to the team’s woes, North Texas lost freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. after being elbowed in practice by a teammate just days after losing 81-76 to Western Kentucky University. Brice then failed a concussion test, causing the 7-foot-1 center to miss a required 10 days of action due to NCAA rules.

Brice returned to the court tonight with a dominant 11 point, five rebound and three block performance. Head coach Tony Benford said the freshman did a great job stepping back into his role as a dominant big for the Mean Green.

“We really missed Rickey,” Benford said. “He plays with a lot of energy and passion. He’s just got to quit looking at the crowd every time he scores and get back on defense.”

Brice played more minutes in the second half after freshman forward Khalil Fuller left the game when a collision with a Southern Miss player sent him crashing to the floor.

North Texas freshman center Rickey Brice (23) dunks on a fast break against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshman center Rickey Brice (23) dunks on a fast break against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

“Khalil really changed my attitude,” Brice said. “Seeing him in pain, I told him before the [second] half, ‘I’m going to play for you and give it all I got.’”

The center did just that in the second half, hitting a couple key shots and throwing down a two-handed dunk that sent the Super Pit into a frenzy to help North Texas pull away with the lead. Two second-half Brice blocks added to the great overall defensive play by the Mean Green.

“It was amazing,” Brice said. “It’s horrible sitting and not helping on the court, so it was a great experience. I’m glad I’m back.”

At 8-14, North Texas has nine games left to try and climb the Conference-USA standings from its current 12th place rank. With Louisiana Tech University (17-5, 6-3) coming to the Super Pit on Saturday, junior guard J-Mychal Reese felt great to help get the five-game losing streak off the team’s back.

“It always feels good to get a win,” Reese said. “Tonight we played defense, rebounded the ball and kept them out the lane, and that really helped us.”

Featured Image: Freshman center Rickey Brice yells after he dunks on a fast break against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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