North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball extends losing streak with blowout loss to UAB

Men’s basketball extends losing streak with blowout loss to UAB

January 23
22:25 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer


Despite leading for more than 18 minutes on Saturday night, North Texas could not overcome an early second half run at University of Alabama at Birmingham, losing 78-57. The Blazers (17-3, 7-0) have now won 21 in a row at home and 13 consecutive games overall – the second longest streak in the nation.

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs continued his dominance in league play, recording his sixth straight double-double on a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. But it was not enough to thwart off the Blazers, as UAB shot 50 percent from the floor en route to the victory.

“Jeremy is playing really well right now,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We have to continue to get him the basketball. He’s playing hard.”

North Texas (7-13, 2-5) struggled to score in the second half and shot only 27 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. The entire team went cold down the stretch, making just one of its last 10 shots. Only two of the Mean Green’s 57 points came from a bench player, with freshman forward Khalil Fuller as its lone scorer off the bench.

“We are concerned,” head coach Tony Benford said of the lack of bench points. “Rickey Brice Jr. was hurt and Ja’Michael Brown didn’t play a whole lot of minutes tonight. We have to continue to try and get some help off the bench.”

The Mean Green began the game in a 2-3 zone defense to prevent any penetration from UAB, which led to easy baskets. The Blazers shot a dismal 3 of 14 from beyond the arc in the first half, allowing North Texas to take a two-point advantage into the locker room.

The Blazers opened the second half on a 6-0 run and made its first four shots to take a 46-39 lead. From there, North Texas could not buy a basket, making two of its next 10 shots. UAB built on its halftime lead and took a 58-47 advantage on a transition layup by sophomore forward Lewis Sullivan with just over eight minutes remaining.

“They did a really good job on offense, but we had a couple of defensive breakdowns,” Combs said. “I give them credit.”

The margin only widened as the game progressed, as UAB finished with three players in double figures and a 29-2 advantage in bench points. Later on, the Blazers scored the last basket of the game to take a game-high 21 point lead.

“We have the pieces to win games,” graduate forward Eric Katenda said. “We just have to learn how to close them out.”

Next up: North Texas concludes its three-game road stretch with a trip to Rice University on Saturday, Jan. 30. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Featured Image: File Photo Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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