North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball falls as Rio Grande Valley zone shuts down Mean Green

Men’s basketball falls as Rio Grande Valley zone shuts down Mean Green

November 20
22:50 2017

The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley was getting frustrated early in the second half against North Texas. They picked up a technical foul and started unraveling emotionally as they trailed 41-32 with under 17:30 left in the second half.

Then Rio Grande Valley (3-2) head coach Lew Hill made a decision that won his team the game.

He went to a 2-3 zone defense and packed the paint while, knowing he had enough length on the court to contest most North Texas (2-2) jumpers. As a result, the Vaqueros went on to outscore North Texas 34-13 in the final 13 plus minutes of the game, defeating the Mean Green 75-63.

“When they got in that zone it obviously changed the entire game.” head coach Grant McCasland said. “They also stayed aggressive offensively. They had a good plan and that zone caused us problems and that’s on me as a coach.”

McCasland was quick to take ownership of the loss after a game where his offense went stale and struggled to solve the puzzle that was the Rio Grande Valley zone.

The Mean Green shot 1-of-14 from three in the second half and failed to get in rhythm throughout the final 20 minutes.

“Those games are hard when shots aren’t going down,” McCasland said. “The big thing for us defensively is I felt like we were getting stops then we started trying to make to big of a play and that led to easier baskets.” 

The five North Texas players who took more than three shots combined to shoot 13-of-52 in the loss.

“I think we came out a little too slow,” sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge said. “Our energy went down once they started pressing us and went into the zone. They kept it packed so we couldn’t attack how we wanted to but we kept trying.”

Woolridge attempted to push the pace to not allow the Vaqueros to settle into their zone, but the North Texas drive and kick game could not free up open shooters.

Even the open shots were not falling for the Mean Green late in the game. Sophomore guards A.J. Lawson and Roosevelt Smart along with junior guard Jorden Duffy combined to shoot just 2-of-17 from behind the arc.

“I really feel like we didn’t shoot well from the field the whole game, it wasn’t just their zone,” Lawson said. “But their zone was effective.”

Rio Grande Valley did not shoot the light out either, as they finished the game shooting under 43 percent and 31.3 percent from three. However, their defensive aggression while sitting in the zone resulted in the Mean Green having even more problems offensively.

A 4-for-24 three point shooting night is tough for any team to overcome, but McCasland was encouraged by his team’s effort despite the struggles.

“I thought the guys hung in there for the most part,” McCasland said. “That [game] was on me. I have to do a better job and I think in the end we’ll keep getting better as a team and use this as a chance to learn.”

Featured Image: North Texas junior guard Michael Miller (23) drives the lane against UTRGV. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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