North Texas Daily

Senior Day ends in disappointing loss for men’s basketball

Senior Day ends in disappointing loss for men’s basketball

February 25
16:58 2017

North Texas welcomed the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles into Denton on Senior Day to close out the 2017 home schedule.

But what was supposed to be a day of happiness and celebration ended in agony for the Mean Green. North Texas (8-20, 2-14) was downed handily by the Golden Eagles (8-20, 2-14), solidifying the first losing record (7-11) at the Super Pit in 13 years.

The Mean Green are now officially eliminated from Conference USA tournament contention.

“I’m very disappointed in this afternoon,” head coach Tony Benford said. “I didn’t think we played well but Southern Miss had a lot to do with that. They did a great job executing against us. We missed some easy shots at the rim that I thought could have kept us in it.”

Freshman guard A.J. Lawson, who has had to pick up the slack that was left by an injury-ridden season, had a double-double to lead the way. Lawson has stepped up in the extended absence of senior guards Keith Frazier, Deckie Johnson and junior forward Jeremy Combs.

The freshman notched 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists.

“Team first,” Lawson said. “I don’t come out here to just try and score everything.”

Senior transfer Derail Green had one last chance to shine at home, and shine he did. Green finished with with 17 points and two rebounds, and no other Mean Green scorer broke into double-digits.

“I just tried to come out with some energy and do whatever I can,” Green said. “We feel a little bit short. It was more the defensive errors that we made. The energy wasn’t that bad it was the attention to detail.”

While Green and Lawson were strong, the Golden Eagles had a number of massive performances of their own.

Senior guard Quinton Campbell led with 24 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting. Senior Michael Ramey was lights out from 3-point range early on his way to 19 points. Ramey was a big part of the 47-30 lead that Southern Miss held at halftime.

Ramey was 6-of-7 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, but only put one one point in the second half.

“We got to him with urgency [in the second half],” Benford said. “He got away from us and hit some big shots early. We did a better job in the second half overall defensively but they executed early.”

However, the Mean Green offense stalled in the second half. Southern Miss led by double-digits before going over eight minutes of game clock without scoring. The Mean Green could just muster 11 points in that stretch, allowing the Golden Eagles to hang on.

The lead held easily for Southern Miss as it went on to close out the final minutes. With just two games remaining on Benford’s contract, the future is unclear for the Mean Green’s head coach of five years.

“I’m going to coach these guys and see if we can finish strong,” Benford said. “I love these guys. I don’t know [if I’ll be back]. This is a great place, but ultimately you need to win games and I understand that.”

Next up: North Texas hits the road to close out the season. First stop is in Bowling Green when they face off with Western Kentucky University at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Featured Image: North Texas senior guard J-Mychal Reese drives the baseline before going to the basket against Southern Mississippi. North Texas was eliminated from post season play after the 76-53 loss. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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