North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball overcomes Rice three-point barrage for win

Men’s basketball overcomes Rice three-point barrage for win

Men’s basketball overcomes Rice three-point barrage for win
January 31
21:59 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team defeated Rice University 75-65 at home Saturday night. North Texas was able to overcome the most three-pointers by an opponent since 2008 for the victory.

The first half between the Mean Green (9-11, 3-5) and the Owls (6-14, 3-5) was a back and forth affair, with Rice leading 45-37 at the intermission. The Owls shot an unworldly 62 percent from beyond the arc, making 12 three-pointers that accounted for 36 of the team’s 45 first half points.

“Rice is one of the best shooting teams in the country, and the best in our entire league,” head coach Tony Benford said. “Man, they were raining them in tonight.”

Despite Rice’s success shooting the ball in the first half, the Mean Green refused to fold. North Texas came out firing in the second half, cutting Rice’s lead to 54-50 with 14:57 left in the half. The team switched from its 3-2 zone to a man defense to counter Rice’s perimeter shooting. The Owl’s three-point percentage dropped from 62.3 percent in the first half to 37.5 percent in second half.

“We were struggling in the first half with our zone,” senior forward Jordan Williams said. They kept running a play where 41 [Rice senior forward Seth Gearhart] would trail and just knock down the three.”

The Mean Green rarely deviate from zone defense, but Benford said he felt like it was the only option at halftime.

“At halftime I told our guys we’re going to have to forget the zone and man up and guard some guys,” Benford said. “I thought our guys did a great job of adjusting from zone to man. Guys like [junior guard Maurice Aniefiok] and Jordan [Williams] did a really nice job of covering the perimeter.”

The Mean Green took the lead in the second half when senior forward Armani Flannigan drove to the bucket and finished around the rim. North Texas never gave up the lead after that.

“We always think about the next play,” Aniefiok said. “College basketball is a game of runs. Teams are going to make runs, but at the end of the day you just have to keep your head in the game.”

North Texas opened up a nine-point lead with just over two minutes to play. The Owls started trapping in the back court but to no avail, as the Mean Green made their foul shots down the stretch and put the game away.

Next up, the team will be on the road for the first time since Jan. 17 to play Western Kentucky University on Feb. 5. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Featured Image: Redshirt senior Maurice Aniefiok sprawls out to finger roll the ball into the hoop against Rice University on Saturday night at the Super Pit. Aneifiok sank two three-point shots in response to Rice’s three-pointer parade. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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