North Texas Daily

Recap: Balanced scoring effort helps men’s basketball halt losing streak

Recap: Balanced scoring effort helps men’s basketball halt losing streak

Recap: Balanced scoring effort helps men’s basketball halt losing streak
December 16
18:12 2020

North Texas men’s basketball (2-3, 0-0 Conference USA) defeated the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7, 0-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference) by a score of 81-56.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Mean Green after they fell to Arkansas, Mississippi State and West Virginia in their three previous games.

It was a balanced offensive effort on the night for North Texas with five players scoring in double figures, led by 14 points from senior guard Javion Hamlet and 12 points and six rebounds from senior forward Zachary Simmons.

The 25-point final deficit is a bit deceptive as to the team’s full-game performance, however, as the Mean Green led by just four points at halftime. They extended their lead to as many as 28 points with 3:27 to go in the second half and ultimately won the period 45 to 24.

The Mean Green recorded nine steals on the night and 28 points off turnovers, both of which were key factors in the team pulling away in the second half and winning by such a lopsided margin. Head coach Grant McCasland said a big part of the team’s defensive struggles early in the game was a lack of energy and aggressiveness. After showing the team the first four minutes of defense in the locker room at halftime, he said they were able to adjust and play better defense in the second half.

“We were not aggressive enough to start the game defensively,” McCasland said. “We’ve been practicing hard, but we took a casual approach on that end and let a team that, is a good team, get a rhythm early. We missed some easy shots early, just looked like we didn’t have the edge we needed. When you play home games, you’ve gotta be the more aggressive team and set the tone. We didn’t do that tonight, but I was proud of the way we responded in the second half defensively.”

A key contributor to the team’s second-half success was junior forward Terrance Lewis II. The 6-foot-7 forward finished with 11 points and five rebounds on the night, with nine points and all five rebounds coming in the second half alone. Lewis tied his season highs in points and rebounds against UAPB and said it felt good to perform well in the team’s win.

“It feels really good,” Lewis said. “When I first started to come in the game […] I kind of made some bad mistakes, but along the way I feel like I adjusted myself and the coaching staff, [Zachary Simmons] and the rest of the team helped me along the way to learn from my mistakes.”

In scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep, senior guard James Reese broke out of a bit of a slump himself. After scoring 21 points in the Mean Green’s home opener, Reese shot a combined 3-for-31 in the team’s next three games and scored 18 points total. He said it felt amazing to break out of the slump against UAPB.

“It feels amazing,” Reese said. “I went through a slump almost the whole season last year, so I kind of know how to deal with those days now, and my teammates pick me up. It’s just all about staying consistent, keeping my routine together. I did that and I was able to make shots tonight.”

UP NEXT: The Mean Green returns to action in the Super Pit on Thursday, Dec. 16 when they face off against Houston Baptist (1-5) at 7 p.m.

Featured Image: Senior guard Javion Hamlet drives towards the basket against University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff defender on Dec. 15, 2020. Image by Zach Del Bello

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John Fields

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