North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball ends non-conference schedule with win over Sam Houston State

Men’s basketball ends non-conference schedule with win over Sam Houston State

North Texas freshman guard Ja'Michael Brown (3) drives the ball down the court during the game against Sam Houston on Tuesday, December 29, 2015. Photo by Kristen Watson/DRC

Men’s basketball ends non-conference schedule with win over Sam Houston State
December 29
21:10 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

The North Texas men’s basketball team returned to action Tuesday night after a week-long holiday break and defeated Sam Houston State University 69-64.

In a tightly contested game, the teams traded leads eight times, often jockeying for position.  But the Mean Green (5-8) pulled away in the second half thanks to junior guard Deckie Johnson, who finished the game with a career high 27 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Despite keeping it close for the majority of the game, the Bearkats (5-8) went cold from the floor in the waning moments, making two of their last eight shots..

Johnson continued to be the centerpiece of scoring for North Texas and has scored 69 points in his last three games. Additionally, the Mean Green received key contributions from its entire back court, with junior guard J-Mychal Reese and freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown combining for 25 points.

North Texas jumped out to an early 11 point lead due in large part to its perimeter shooting. Johnson led the way, pouring in 11 first half points to help North Texas start the game shooting 83 percent from the floor.

But the lead slowly dwindled. The Bearkats frequently applied full-court pressure, which resulted in seven first half turnovers. The disruptive Sam Houston State defense also forced North Texas to go into a four minute drought without a field goal.

Nevertheless, the Mean Green found an answer from one of its captains, when sophomore forward Jeremy Combs rejected a Bearkats’ shot, sending it flying into the seats. Seconds later, Johnson grabbed a rebound and took it coast to coast, slamming it home to send North Texas into halftime tied at 31.

The second half continued to be a back and forth affair, as both squads repeatedly answered one another. The Bearkats reneged its full-court pressure in favor of a man-to-man defense, especially after head coach Tony Benford inserted freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. into the lineup. While he did not light up the stat sheet, Brice was able to alter shots in the paint and force Sam Houston State to shoot from the perimeter.

In addition to its lineup changes, North Texas also began attacking the paint on dribble drives, which put the Bearkats over the foul limit midway through the second half. Despite being in foul trouble for the better part of the half, Sam Houston State refused to go away. Three Bearkats ended in double figures, including junior center Aurimas Majauskas who finished with 17 points and five rebounds.

It was not enough however, as North Texas made crucial shots down the stretch to put Sam Houston State away.

Next Up: North Texas travels to San Antonio to open its conference slate against the University of Texas San Antonio on Friday, Jan. 1. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.

Featured Image: North Texas freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown (3) drives the ball down the court during the game against Sam Houston on Dec. 29. Kristen Watson | DRC

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