North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball falls to Alabama-Birmingham in Conference USA tournament semifinal

Men’s basketball falls to Alabama-Birmingham in Conference USA tournament semifinal

Men’s basketball falls to Alabama-Birmingham in Conference USA tournament semifinal
March 11
00:24 2023

An early 20-point deficit was too much for men’s basketball to overcome as it lost 76-69 against the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the semifinal round of the Conference USA tournament Friday. 

The Blazers held the lead for the entirety of the game as North Texas attempted to claw its way back throughout the 40 minutes. The team was able to get within two points in the final minute of the game, but was ultimately unable to advance to the final round. 

“I thought we would be playing in the championship game — that’s the truth,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “We struggled to score, dug ourselves in too deep of a hole, and just played catch up the whole time, […] we ultimately just ended up fighting, and I was proud of our guys. The competitiveness we showed was tremendous.” 

The No. 2 seeded Mean Green took a dominant 74-46 win over No. 10 Louisiana Tech University in the quarterfinals Thursday after receiving a first-round bye. 

Sophomore guard Aaron Scott had a career-high 19 points on 6-6 shooting in the win against the No. 3 Bulldogs. North Texas shot 51 percent from the field and broke the program record for most wins in a season at 26. 

“I was very confident,” Scott said. “My teammates and coaches were confident in me. I just kept shooting and it was falling. We had a game plan and we executed it — offensively and defensively.”

Alabama-Birmingham led 22-2 about nine minutes into the semifinal game as North Texas shot 1-19 from the field in the first 12 minutes. Senior guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker led the way for the Blazers with 32 points on 44 percent shooting. He scored the first 15 of 22 points for the Blazers and fueled the 18-0 run.

“[Walker] did a fantastic job of scoring when they needed it,” McCasland said. “We couldn’t get the ball out of his hands enough and couldn’t make it difficult enough on him.” 

A point from senior guard Kai Huntsberry ended the eight-minute scoring drought for North Texas as a three from senior guard Tylor Perry went on to build momentum for the Mean Green. 

With 4:36 left in the half, Huntsberry hit a 3-pointer and junior guard Rubin Jones scored to set off a 9-0 North Texas run. The Alabama-Birmingham lead diminished to seven at the half as the Mean Green ended on a 16-5 run and held the Blazers to zero field goals in the last 5:19. 

Alabama-Birmingham led 35-28 at halftime. 

Scott opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Walker answered as the Blazers went on a 7-0 run at the beginning of the half. The Mean Green slowly chipped away at the lead as a three-point play from Huntsberry followed by a Perry layup put them within single digits. 

Perry hit a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left to put North Texas in a five-point deficit. After stealing the ball and drawing a foul, Jones hit one of two free throws. Another steal from Huntsberry led to a Jones layup and the Mean Green trailed by two with 42 seconds left. 

That was the closest North Texas would come to taking a lead as it missed three attempts from deep and the Blazers finished out the game with free throws. 

“I think we’re just all resilient and all love playing,” Huntsberry said. “We still have a lot more fight in us, we just came up short.” 

The team will now shift its focus to the National Invitational Tournament as McCasland said he believes they will receive a bid. 

“Their competitiveness down the stretch says a lot about our group and who they are,” McCasland said. “They’re unbelievable teammates, they’re tough, and I’m just thankful that we’ll get to keep playing.”

Featured Image Junior guard Rubin Jones plays defense in a game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Feb. 9, 2023. Marco Barrera

About Author

Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad