Men’s basketball takes on tough road schedule after string of home losses

Men’s basketball takes on tough road schedule after string of home losses

December 03
12:23 2015

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

After hosting its first five opponents at the Super Pit to begin the season, North Texas men’s basketball has started the second leg of the 2015 season with one of its biggest kryptonites from last season: playing on the road.

The team has struggled on the road recently, going 3-10 in games away from Denton despite its 11-6 home record last season. Head coach Tony Benford understands the importance of picking up wins away from home.

“You have to win road games,” Benford said. “It’s tough enough to compete at home, picking up wins on the road helps a lot.”

North Texas began the season with wins against Jarvis Christian (112-82) and Texas College (110-61) at home before dropping the next three games at the Super Pit in the Mean Green Challenge.

The Mean Green lost the first day of the Challenge to Idaho in a close 65-63 game coming down to a couple crucial misses in the paint by junior guard J-Mychal Reese that would have sent the game into overtime. The home team faced a similar fate the very next night in a tight 74-72 loss against Samford after a missed free throw by sophomore forward Jeremy Combs failed to tie the game in the last two minutes.

Sitting at an even 2-2, North Texas’ last chance to escape the home stretch with a winning record slipped with an 86-74 loss to Troy University after leading at halftime.

“We need to focus on the little things that keep beating us late in games,” Benford said. “We can’t keep beating ourselves with mistakes.”

After a rough outing at home, the Mean Green finally hit the road last night for the first time since March of last season to Cedar Falls, Iowa to play the University of Northern Iowa. The Panthers played aggressively throughout the night, going 24-28 at the free throw line.

North Texas went into halftime with a 43-41 lead before UNI went on a 25-10 run to start the second half. The Mean Green would never catch up to the Panther lead before eventually losing its fourth game in a row 93-70, the worst loss North Texas has had all season.

“We gave up some quick shots early in the second half and didn’t get into a good rhythm offensively,” Graduate forward Eric Katenda said. “I got in foul trouble early so I had to sit longer. I wish I could have been out there on the court helping the team more.”

Katenda knows how important road wins are to a team but doesn’t put any extra pressure on himself or his teammates for these games.

“It’s harder playing on the road, but it’s still just basketball at the end of the day,” Katenda said. “Home or away doesn’t matter after a while. After you start playing, everything else comes naturally.”

Reese also thinks playing on the road is no excuse for losing.

“We can’t worry or blame nothing we can’t control,” Reese said. “All we can do is go out there and play how we know we can play.”

The Mean Green play three of its four games after the five-game home stand on the road, including Monday’s contest against UNI.  North Texas heads to Arlington today to face the University of Texas at Arlington.

Featured Image: North Texas freshman forward Khalil Fuller (22) gets stripped by Southern Illinois under the basket after an offensive rebound. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

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