North Texas Daily

Lackluster defense proves costly in men’s basketball blowout at Charlotte

Lackluster defense proves costly in men’s basketball blowout at Charlotte

February 13
18:39 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

North Texas men’s basketball was unable to salvage a split of its two game road trip, as the Mean Green (9-16, 4-8) was routed 103-79 on the road at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The loss dropped the Mean Green to 1-10 away from the Super Pit this season.

The 49ers (10-15, 6-6) made 10 first half threes and shot a sweltering 62 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Charlotte also had a four-minute stretch at the end of the half in which it made 11 consecutive shots, as North Texas was unable to find any answer defensively.

“They just hit some big shots,” sophomore forward Jeremy Combs said. “We have to have more intensity and urgency on defense.”

Despite trailing for the entirety of the game, Combs continued to produce. The Dallas native scored 24 points on 85.7 percent shooting and finished just one rebound shy of his 13th double-double of the season.

But Combs was the only consistent performer for the Mean Green. Excluding Combs, North Texas players shot 28.6 percent from the floor and combined for 55 points.

“There’s not many kids nowadays that have the work ethic like Jeremy,” head coach Tony Benford said. “You’re lucky when you have a kid like that who will give 100 percent.”

The Mean Green started the game shooting 3-of-14 but managed to hang tough, keeping the game close through the first 10 minutes of play. After a Benford technical foul for arguing with an official, Charlotte went on an 8-0 run which propelled them to a 56-35 halftime lead.

With the outside shots refusing to fall, the 49ers backed into a zone defense to force the Mean Green to shoot from the perimeter. Charlotte then took long rebounds and ran in transition, where it made 14 threes to forge as much as a 30-point lead.

“I didn’t think we competed for 40 minutes,” Benford said. “They hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond. They made some tough shots, but we didn’t really contest a lot of them.”

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese tried to pick up the slack for North Texas in the second half, but his performance was not enough to light a spark under the Mean Green. He finished with 18 points and four assists, becoming the first player since Chris Jones in 2013 to tally more than 100 assists in a season.

“I feel like [Combs and I] came out and had a pretty good game tonight,” Reese said. “It goes back to the defensive end and how all five of us have to be on the same page.”

Next up: North Texas hosts Florida Atlantic University on Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Super Pit. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Featured Image: Freshman center Rickey Brice (23) yells after he dunks on a fast break against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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