North Texas Daily

Jeremy Combs’ return not enough to propel men’s basketball to victory against UT-Arlington

Jeremy Combs’ return not enough to propel men’s basketball to victory against UT-Arlington

December 04
13:23 2016

The North Texas offense mimicked the weather in Denton on Saturday afternoon.

On a rainy, glum day, the Mean Green (4-4) fell to the University of Texas at Arlington 77-61 behind a sluggish and otherwise ineffective offensive attack.

The Mean Green shot 20-of-64 from the field, and could not buy a basket at times. North Texas was led by a double-double from junior forward Jeremy Combs, who played in his first game since Nov. 20. He finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Combs missed the last four games nursing an ankle injury, and despite winning three of those contests, his presence was severeley missed. After averaging a double-double last season, Combs is hopeful the rest will help him in the long run.

“I was happy to get back out on the court,” Combs said. “I felt the best I felt in a while. I did a lot of rehab.”

But Combs’ return was not enough to propel the Mean Green to victory.

The Mavericks (6-3)  shot 49.1 percent from the field and made 10 three-pointers, running away with the game down the stretch. UT-Arlington junior forward Kevin Hervey, matched Combs’ 21 points, and added 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own.

“They’re a good team,” head coach Tony Benford said. “I thought they did a good job of coming in and setting the tone early. [Hervey] is a great player. ”

North Texas was stifled in the beginning of the first half, as the Mavericks jumped out to an early eight-point lead. UT-Arlington also took away the pain and forced the Mean Green to run its offense from the perimeter, which crippled Benford’s normal inside-outside play.

“I thought we had some good looks,” Benford said. “We are a good shooting team when we shoot the step-in three. I just thought Deckie [Johnson] really struggled today.”

Johnson made one shot, shooting a dismal 8.3 percent to finish with just two points.

But as the first half progressed, so did the Mean Green.

Combs turned it on down the stretch, and began to grab just about every rebound he could. The Mean Green outrebounded the Mavs 10-3 on the offensive glass, which led to eight second chance points for North Texas.

The Mean Green even cut the lead to 34-30 at halftime. Momentum seemed to have shifted, until the second half started.

North Texas was ice cold to start the final 20 minutes, and opened the final half on a 13-4 run to put the game to bed. Hervey found his stroke from beyond the arc, shooting 50 percent from distance to help the Mavericks pull away.

The Mean Green only had six assists on the afternoon, highlighting their offensive struggles. North Texas had only three players in double digit scoring at the final whistle. Senior guard J-Mychal Reese came into the game averaging 4.5 assists per game, but only had two.

He chalked up the loss to one thing in particular.

“Shots just weren’t falling,” Reese said. “Basketball is a game of runs. That’s going to happen.”

The Mean Green are back in action on Dec. 8 against Delaware State in the Super Pit at 7 p.m.

Featured Image: North Texas junior forward Jeremy Combs runs the fast break against the University of Texas at Arlington. Combs finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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