North Texas Daily

New starters, new tournament yields postseason win for men’s basketball

New starters, new tournament yields postseason win for men’s basketball

March 14
22:00 2018

The Mean Green entered the first round of the College Basketball Invitational with, admittedly, little momentum and faced a team who, on paper, looked imposing to head coach Grant McCasland and his team.

North Texas was without their two seniors in Shane Temara and Bryce Jackson and started junior guards Michael Miller and Jorden Duffy, neither of which started a game all season.

The Mean Green played with plenty of energy on the road in South Dakota Wednesday night as they defeated the University of South Dakota 90-77.

“It started on the defensive end, we just guarded personnel really well,” McCasland said. “When you get in postseason, not everyone has seen you. We did a good job of freeing up Rose, good starts from Mike and Duffy and both of them played really well.”

North Texas’ offense put up 90 points behind the scoring of three of their starting guards. Miller and Duffy scored 19 each while sophomore Roosevelt Smart dropped in 34 on 10-of-25 shooting from the field and 7-of-18 from 3-point range.

As a team, the Mean Green went 14-of-34 on 3-pointers a stark contrast from the Coyote’s 6-of-33 from distance.

“The biggest thing was we overemphasized not letting them get to the basket,” McCasland said. “We were OK with them shooting threes. They do such a good job getting to the free throw line that we couldn’t let them get to the basket because that’s when they open up what they do on the perimeter.”

Sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge finished with only two points, but had nine assists and only two turnovers in 39 minutes.

While the Mean Green had players step up besides Smart, South Dakota’s star Matt Mooney ended the night with 22 points on 8-of-28 shooting from the field and was uncomfortable all night.

“It was just us being in gaps,” Smart said. “[We were] helping whoever was guarding Mooney and making him see five jerseys in front of him and making him kick it out to people who really did not want to shoot it or make other people make plays instead of him.”

Freshman forward Zachary Simmons dominated down low, as he grabbed 17 rebounds and had nine points in 29 minutes.

While sophomore A.J. Lawson only played six minutes and scored two points, the offensive lineup on the court was more suited to play against this defense.

“They are a really good gap defensive team, so they protect the paint well,” McCasland said. “[So] I told A.J. I wanted to put someone out there that gave us a better chance from the 3-point line. Ryan got a lot of paint touches and then Zach in the middle was dominating, he had a heck of a game.”

North Texas’ 90 points were the most in regulation since Nov. 11 of 2017 and the team just looked comfortable competing again, against a new team.

McCasland and company will host round two of the CBI tournament on Monday at 7:30 as they look to continue to extend their season.

“This is about North Texas basketball and anytime you can get a team win like that, it’s a huge deal.” McCasland said.

Featured image: North Texas sophomore Roosevelt Smart shoots the ball in a conference game against Western Kentucky University on Feb. 15 at the Super Pit. Sara Carpenter

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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