North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball meets Louisiana Tech in opening round of C-USA tournament

Men’s basketball meets Louisiana Tech in opening round of C-USA tournament

March 06
20:48 2018

North Texas men’s basketball held shootaround Tuesday evening at the newly placed basketball courts at The Star in Frisco.

The Mean Green face Louisiana Tech University in under 24 hours, at 8:30 p.m., a team that beat them by one free throw on a blocking foul near the rim, leading to two free throws in the final seconds on the road. This game was in the middle of the conference season for both teams and both have grown over the past month, but this promises to be an interesting game with North Texas being the seven seed and Louisiana Tech being the 10.

“As a North Texas basketball player, itf this is a game that you’re not looking forward to, our season is going to be over,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “We played them already at their place in a game where we had a chance to win so we should be playing with motivation.”

Last time the two met, two freshmen led the way for the Bulldogs in the win. Freshman forward Anthony Deruji scored 25 with seven boards and three blocks while freshman guard Amorie Archibald totaled 21 and five assists.

While they had big nights, their usual scorers are senior guard Jacobi Boykins and sophomore guard DaQuan Bracey at 14.6 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.

“We need to be more physical both offensively and defensively [this time],” sophomore guard A.J. Lawson said. “It helps to have seen [Louisiana Tech before], you know what they’re going to do and it comes down to X’s and O’s, executing and stops.”

For North Texas, sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart was named to the All-Conference Second Team recently for his 18.8 points per game average this season. Beside him as always is sophomore point guard Ryan Woolridge who has looked to be more aggressive in recent games, especially in their last game against University of Texas at El Paso.

Both teams have lost five of their last six games in the regular season, so something will have to give as they meet in the tournament.

“Just having confidence in ourselves because we’re competing with the top teams in our conference,” Woolridge said. “We just have to have the confidence to go out there and lay it all on the line knowing this might be our last game.”

While Smart hovers around the 3-point line as the most lethal shooter in the conference, statistically, Woolridge attacks the paint and forces bigs to rotate early and often which he wants to continue on Wednesday.

“Coach told me to be aggressive,” Woolridge said. “I started off and I wasn’t making shots [against UTEP] but we were getting offensive rebounds and other opportunities from those so he told me to keep attacking. I feel like carrying over the aggressive side, thinking score first instead of being passive will help our team in this tournament.”

The question hovering over the Mean Green entering the game is experience in a conference tournament. The entire roster of North Texas has logged 41 total minutes in a conference tournament game. Junior guard Allante Holston played 40 minutes and Khalil Fuller played one minute in one game two seasons ago.

The rest were either in junior college or missed the tournament last season.

“Truthfully it does matter,” McCasland said of the inexperience. “But once you get past one win in an environment like this, I think everybody is on a neutral playing field. We need to find a way to win the first one.”

It’s something that McCasland had to prepare for entering this tournament. Luckily, the team has been in plenty of close, meaningful games this season.

“One area we’ve focused on the last three days is making sure in game situations we don’t have any confusion. Usually in those close games, with experience, you have a few go to guys who know how to do it, so for us we have to be super tight in our execution knowing who is doing what.”

McCasland’s first year has been filled with surprises, close wins and close losses and every game held lessons he hopes his team has learned from. Now it’s about making the plays to win in this tournament.

“It’s time to put all you learned in practices now,” McCasland said. “I’m excited for our guys to play and our guys are excited to play.”

Featured image: Mean Green Men’s Basketball head coach, Grant McCasland, encourages his team during a game against Eureka College. Madison Gore

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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