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Johnson’s huge second half propels men’s basketball to upset victory

Johnson’s huge second half propels men’s basketball to upset victory

North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown (3) drives through multiple defenders to draw a foul against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Johnson’s huge second half propels men’s basketball to upset victory
February 06
18:35 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

The silent assassin struck again.

Junior guard Deckie Johnson had 19 second half points, including a four-point play which brought the 4,000 plus crowd at the Super Pit to its feet in the Mean Green’s upset victory. He finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Despite shooting 1-of-4 from the field for two points in the first half, Johnson exploded in the second half, taking over the game with his shooting and ability to create off the dribble.

Johnson even had an exchange with junior guard J-Mychal Reese one time up the floor, when the junior college transfer clapped his hands together demanding the ball.

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) fades away from the defender to get the basket against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) fades away from the defender to get the basket against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

“I let the game come to me,” Johnson said. “I try to not do too much. I don’t force anything. [Reese] is the point guard, I trust him. I wasn’t mad.”

North Texas shot 14 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, making just one three on seven attempts. With the Bulldogs primarily playing a zone defense to force the Mean Green to shoot from the outside, North Texas relied heavily on sophomore Jeremy Combs to keep it in the game before the solo cavalry of Johnson arrived in the second half.

“I just hit my first shot and I started to feel it,” Johnson said. “My teammates did a good job finding me. It was a confidence thing.”

Once Johnson began knocking down perimeter shots, the offense started to find a rhythm and began the second half on a 17-6 run.

“It turned the game,” head coach Tony Benford said. “It was huge. He hit that first one and it just started to open up. He’s one of the best shooters in our league.”

Johnson scored 15 of the team’s 17 points during the aforementioned run, which gave North Texas a lead it would only relinquish one time. The Mean Green shot 71.7 percent from beyond the arc in the second half, forcing the Bulldogs to close out on North Texas shooters, especially Johnson.

The result was inside scoring opportunities for sophomore forward Jeremy Combs and graduate forward Eric Katenda, who finished the game with 16 points and six rebounds, including several crucial free throws down the stretch to seal the game.

“They started to help a lot more, so of course it makes it a lot easier for us,” Katenda said. “It definitely opens up the floor for everyone. It didn’t take us long to realize [Johnson] was feeling it.”

And according to Benford, the difference in the game was apparent.

“[We had] Deckie Johnson,” Benford said.

Featured Image: North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown (3) drives through multiple defenders to draw a foul against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

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