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Johnson’s heroics propel men’s basketball to victory once again

Johnson’s heroics propel men’s basketball to victory once again

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) drives the lane against FIU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Johnson’s heroics propel men’s basketball to victory once again
February 18
22:22 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Deckie Johnson got a belated birthday gift on Thursday night.

The junior guard capped off a ferocious North Texas rally with a seismic three pointer that rocked the Super Pit, obliterating an 11-point Florida International University lead en route to a 77-75 Mean Green victory.

Johnson scored 19 points in the final eight minutes, a stretch that included five threes and four free throws. He finished the game with 32 points, a new career high, while tying the school record the most threes in a game with eight.

Junior point guard J-Mychal Reese (52) passes the ball to the baseline for an assist against FIU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior point guard J-Mychal Reese (52) passes the ball to the baseline for an assist against FIU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

“Deckie Johnson, I’m glad he’s on my team,” head coach Tony Benford said.

As the clock winded down, Johnson took matters into his own hands yet again. North Texas was down 75-73 with under a minute remaining, and Johnson stepped up and took a charge to get the Mean Green the ball back with an opportunity to tie or take the lead.

After signaling for a quick timeout, Johnson called his own number, waiving off sophomore forward Jeremy Combs and isolating himself at the top of the key. With the crowd thundering, Johnson dribbled thrice between his legs, stepped back and put up what would be the game winning shot.

“[Combs] was coming to set the screen, and I told him to move out of the way,” Johnson said. “I just took it. [My defender] sagged off me and I rose up and I just shot it”

Evidently, Johnson had a good reason to waive off one of the team’s co-captains.

“It was too crowded. I wanted to get some space,” Johnson said. “When I’m hot, I’m hot. I want to shoot almost any time I get it.”

Johnson had nine points at halftime, and even missed a few shots in the first few minutes of the second half. But when the team needed a bucket most, Johnson delivered.

Combs reiterated Johnson’s ability to close out games and was adamant about the team’s resiliency.

“We just kept fighting,” Combs said. “We stayed together. I feel like we’ve been staying together all year. But tonight, we made the plays we needed to make.”

The second time in as many home games, Johnson has become no stranger to coming through in the clutch, previously going off for 21 points in an upset win over Louisiana Tech University on Feb. 6. Ultimately,Benford said Johnson’s ability to dictate the outcome of a game points to one thing in particular.

“It solidifies him as a really good player,” Benford said. “He knows that. He’s going to continue to get better. His teammates are comfortable with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”

Featured Image: Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) drives the lane against FIU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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