North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball advances to NIT semifinal for first time in program history

Men’s basketball advances to NIT semifinal for first time in program history

Men’s basketball advances to NIT semifinal for first time in program history
March 23
12:00 2023

Men’s basketball will go to Las Vegas for the semifinal round of the National Invitational Tournament after defeating Oklahoma State University 65-59 in overtime Tuesday night. 

This is the first time in program history North Texas has made it to the semifinals of the NIT. The No. 2 seeded Mean Green hosted their first two rounds of the tournament in the Super Pit, defeating their first two opponents to advance to the quarterfinals and face Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

A 24-17 halftime lead for North Texas dwindled down in the second half as Oklahoma State rallied back and sent the game to overtime at 55 points a piece. 

The Mean Green held the Cowboys to the least points scored in the half this season. The team was without its third-leading scorer and top rebounder Abou Ousmane due to a family emergency. Redshirt freshman forward Moulaye Sissoko took his role in the starting lineup, scoring a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.  

The teams traded the lead for the last five minutes of regulation. A 5-0 Mean Green run gave them a three-point advantage with 1:57 left, but the Cowboys finished with a 3-pointer to tie. 

Oklahoma State missed all of its field goal attempts in overtime as senior guard Kai Huntsberry scored five of North Texas’ overtime points. Senior guard and Conference USA player of the year Tylor Perry contributed a deep 3-pointer and finished out the game with a pair of free throws. 

Perry scored his 1,000th career point in the contest and led all scorers with 23 points. 

“[Perry] doesn’t turn the ball over and he’s capable of making really hard shots, so we just rolled with him,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “We rolled with the thousand-point scorer MVP of our league.” 

The win was the Mean Green’s first road win against a Big 12 Conference team since 2001.

Previously, Perry put up 21 points in the first round 69-53 win over Alcorn State University on March 16. 

“A lot of people are sitting at home on spring break right now and we have a chance to keep playing,” Perry said. “We got a chance to come out and play basketball again today so you never take that for granted.”

North Texas held a four-point lead at halftime and opened the second half with a 13-3 run. The team outscored Alcorn State to take home a victory. 

The Mean Green made their second consecutive appearance in the second round of the NIT on March 19, defeating No. 3 seed Sam Houston State University by 20 points. 

In Ousmane’s absence, North Texas adjusted and scored a season-high 16 3-pointers in the contest. 

“Abou [Ousmane] is us and we try to be there for guys when tough things are going on,” McCasland said. “Hopefully all that gets taken care of, but you know, this is what makes a team great — you see how they responded and played for each other today.”

The team led 38-19 at the half. 

Perry and Jones opened the second half with a 3-pointer each. Shooting a perfect 5-5 from deep, Jones scored a career-high 17 points.

“We were just having fun out there — I was finally able to get the three ball to drop and just kept shooting,” Jones said. “If you see the ball go in for anybody it’s going to be a good thing for the team. It gives you a boost of confidence even if you aren’t making a shot. It was a good, fun win.” 

The Mean Green cruised to a win and finished with 52 percent field goal shooting and 55.2 percent from three.

North Texas will face the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on March 28.

Image Source Mean Green Sports

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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