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Men’s basketball upsets Louisiana Tech for second straight season

Men’s basketball upsets Louisiana Tech for second straight season

North Texas sophomore guard Greg White-Pittman (2) celebrates with his teammates after junior guard Deckie Johnson sinks another three against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Men’s basketball upsets Louisiana Tech for second straight season
February 06
17:26 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

In a pivotal Conference-USA showdown with postseason implications, North Texas erased a 10 point first half deficit to defeat Louisiana Tech University 80-69. It is the second straight year the Mean Green (9-14, 4-6) have beaten the Bulldogs (17-6, 6-4) at home.

Behind 19 second half points from junior guard Deckie Johnson, North Texas fed off the energy of the largest crowd at the Super Pit all season. The official announced attendance came in at 4,610.

Johnson scored 12 of the Mean Green’s first 15 points of the second half, including a four-point play which gave the Mean Green its first lead of the afternoon at 47-46. Johnson took over the game in the second half, aggressively calling for the ball each time down the court and winning his isolation matchups with defenders. He finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds.

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) pump fakes the defender then goes up for a layup against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) pump fakes the defender then goes up for a layup against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Although the team jumped out to an 11-point second half lead, it was not all easy for North Texas.
The Bulldogs made it increasingly difficult for the Mean Green offense to get anything going in the first half. Louisiana Tech was able to stymie the North Texas three point shooters, as the Mean Green shot just 14 percent from beyond the arc in the first half.

With the outside shots not falling, North Texas resorted to a pick-and-roll game with sophomore forward Jeremy Combs and freshman center Rickey Brice Jr. Several times throughout the first half, the Mean Green got easy layups off give and go’s to the basket. Johnson even had a fantastic no-look pass to Combs, who finished with a ferocious slam dunk.

With the reliance on the pick-and-roll game came several offensive fouls. The Mean Green were whistled for at least three moving screens in the first half which killed momentum. One foul negated freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown’s three, which would have pulled North Texas to within four.

North Texas junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) throws the ball to the top of the key for an assist against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) throws the ball to the top of the key for an assist against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

To make matters worse for the Mean Green, junior guard J-Mychal Reese picked up two early fouls and was relegated to the bench for the final seven minutes of the first half. Despite not leading in the first 20 minutes, North Texas refused to go away and entered the locker room trailing 40-30.

A different Mean Green squad emerged from the tunnel in the second half and began to find a rhythm offensively. With Johnson knocking down the outside shots, the paint opened up for dribble drives and layup attempts around the basket. This allowed for Combs and graduate forward Eric Katenda to post up in the paint and got the Bulldogs in early foul trouble.

However, Louisiana Tech didn’t fold. The Bulldogs held the Mean Green scoreless for a 2:49 stretch in second half and got to within four points with under three minutes remaining. Fouls proved costly down the stretch for Louisiana Tech, as North Texas shot 75 percent from the charity stripe to thwart off any hope of a Bulldog’s comeback.

Next up: North Texas travels to take on Old Dominion University on Thursday, Feb. 11. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

Featured Image: Sophomore guard Greg White-Pittman (2) celebrates with his teammates after junior guard Deckie Johnson sinks another three against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

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