North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball downs FAU for fourth straight home victory

Men’s basketball downs FAU for fourth straight home victory

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) shoot a jump shot against FAU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Men’s basketball downs FAU for fourth straight home victory
February 20
21:07 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

In search of its fourth straight victory at the Super Pit, North Texas men’s basketball defeated Florida Atlantic University 70-62. The win helps the Mean Green (11-16, 6-8) improve to 10-6 at home this season.

The Mean Green defense was impenetrable out of the gate, holding Florida Atlantic (7-21, 5-10) scoreless for the first three and a half minutes of action. Meanwhile, North Texas got off to a hot start on offense as well, taking an 11-2 lead after junior guard Deckie Johnson drained a three pointer on his first shot of the game.

Freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. brought the Mean Green even more energy as the first player off the bench, scoring buckets on three consecutive possessions and leading the team with eight first half points. North Texas then went up 19-9 on a breakaway dunk by sophomore forward Jeremy Combs, taking its biggest lead of the half.

North Texas junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) drives the basket against FAU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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

Despite falling behind early, the Owls relied on 5-of-12 three point shooting to prevent a large halftime deficit. But North Texas still controlled the paint, outscoring Florida Atlantic 16-4 from inside to take a 30-25 lead into the intermission.

The aggressive mentality of North Texas didn’t slow down one bit in the second half. Utilizing the fast break off FAU misses helped the Mean Green extend its lead, going up 39-30 with 14:40 remaining.

Next, a sequence of defensive fouls allowed the Owls to climb back once again, including a technical foul from the North Texas bench that resulted in four made free throws. The Mean Green continued to fight through, going up 11 with less than three minutes to play after a top of the key three ball from Johnson and a mid-range jumper from junior guard J-Mychal Reese.

Florida Atlantic’s Marquan Botley wasn’t about to let his team fall apart. Just when the game seemed out of reach, he hit two straight shots from deep to cut the lead to 3 with 1:04 remaining.

Ultimately, the same clutch defense that gave the Mean Green an early lead fueled the victory. Once Botley missed a layup with under 30 seconds left, North Texas was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. The team shot all 25 of its free throws in the second half.

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) dunks against FAU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) dunks against FAU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

The North Texas big three contributed the majority of the scoring. Johnson led the way with 19 points, while Combs posted 17 and Reese ended with 14.

Next up will be a road matchup against Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana on Feb. 25. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

Featured Image: Senior forward Eric Katenda (20) shoot a jump shot against FAU. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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