North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball closes home-stand with loss to Western Kentucky

Men’s basketball closes home-stand with loss to Western Kentucky

North Texas junior point guard J-Mychal Reese (52) drives the base line to look for a pass against WKU. J-Mychal had game high 23 points along with 7 assists. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Men’s basketball closes home-stand with loss to Western Kentucky
January 16
21:45 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Coming off a blowout loss to Marshall University, North Texas returned to action on Saturday night and fell to Western Kentucky University 81-76. Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs had another monster game and got off to an electric start, scoring North Texas’ first 14 points, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double.

However, 11 missed free throws doomed the Mean Green, as the team finished 58 percent from the charity stripe – a mark just below its 60 percent average for the season.

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese tried several times to put the team on his back, scoring a team high 23 points including two clutch three pointers in the final minute to put North Texas (7-11, 2-3) in a position to come away with a win. The Mean Green also got its starting junior guard Deckie Johnson back after missing Thursday’s game with a sprained right foot. He finished with 17 points on 5 of 13 shooting.

The Hilltoppers (10-8, 2-4) made several halftime adjustments, including going to a zone defense to take away North Texas’ ability to drive the paint and finish around the basket. This forced the Mean Green to shoot the ball from the outside – something it struggled doing all game.

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) throws down a dunk off of a break away against WKU. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) throws down a dunk off of a break away against WKU. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Both teams preferred to play fast, going up-tempo and running the floor in transition. This led to each squad getting into the bonus early in the first half and also resulted in hard fouls for both sides. Head coach Tony Benford was particularly fired up about a no-call on Combs underneath the basket and met with officials at half court during a media timeout. No technical foul was issued.

And with neither team able to seize control of the game, the see-saw contest would continue until Western Kentucky senior forward Nigel Snipes hit a three pointer as time expired to give his team a 41-38 lead at halftime. The back-and-forth affair carried into the second half, but in a much more controlled manner. Instead of the fast-paced game that dominated most of the first half, both teams slowed down and ran their offenses with half court sets.

The Hilltoppers began to get hot from beyond the arc and in turn, went on a 7-0 run to give it the largest lead of the night at 60-51. In that span, Western Kentucky made multiple three pointers off ball screens, which freed up shooters and allowed its players to confidently step into their shots.

But over the next four minutes, both teams went cold, going a combined 1-11 from the field. Regardless, the Mean Green clawed its way back into the game and cut the deficit to three points on the back of a pair of made free throws by graduate forward Eric Katenda.

Western Kentucky maintained its lead into the waning moments of the game and turned the ball over twice in the final 65 seconds. Unfortunately for North Texas, it was not able to get closer than three points and the Hilltoppers prevailed with the victory.

Next up: the Mean Green take on Middle Tennessee state University on the road on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

Featured Image: North Texas junior point guard J-Mychal Reese (52) drives the base line to look for a pass against WKU. J-Mychal had game high 23 points along with 7 assists. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer 

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