North Texas Daily

Katenda and Combs carry men’s basketball team to win over Rice

Katenda and Combs carry men’s basketball team to win over Rice

January 09
23:42 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer


Offense, defense and all the intangibles came together in North Texas’ 85-74 victory over Rice University on Saturday afternoon.

Four Mean Green players finished in double figures, with graduate forward Eric Katenda posting a career high 18 points and sophomore forward Jeremy Combs recording his second consecutive double-double. The duo combined for 40 points and 17 rebounds.

The defense also did its part, holding the Owls to 22 first half points on 18 percent shooting. And perhaps even more important than the defense was the highlight reel plays produced by Katenda and Combs, which included several alley-oops and one handed dunks that breathed life into the Super Pit.

“It brings a lot of energy to the team,” Combs said. “And I saw Eric making all the highlight reel plays and I thought I needed to get me some too.”

Katenda sparked a second half run when he ran the length of the floor, Euro-stepped around a Rice defender and finished an and-one dunk. The effort gave the Mean Green its largest lead of the game at 24 points.

“It just brings a level of excitement. Like when I had my first dunk, I saw the whole bench get up and start cheering with enthusiasm,” Katenda said. “We want to have fun playing the game, and this just helps us.”

Both Combs and Katenda dominated the interior, allowing North Texas to shoot 51.8 percent from the field for the game – a byproduct of easy opportunities created close to the basket. The two big men also anchored the middle on defense and were major the major reason Rice had trouble getting any penetration for drive and kick opportunities.

“[Katenda] and [Combs] are extremely versatile forwards,” head coach Tony Benford said. “Both of them can rebound the basketball and score inside. They play really well off one another.”

North Texas had one of its best shooting games of the season at the charity stripe, shooting 85.7 percent – well above its 60.4 percent average for the year. The Mean Green also made five of its final six free throws in the waning moments of the game to seal the victory.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Benford said. “We weathered the storm, I thought we showed some poise down the stretch. We made our free throws and we’ve really been working on it. It was a great team win for us.”

Featured Image: North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda scored 18 points in Saturday’s game against Rice University. File Photo

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