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Recap: Hot shooting night propels men’s basketball to 2nd round of C-USA tourney

Recap: Hot shooting night propels men’s basketball to 2nd round of C-USA tourney

Recap: Hot shooting night propels men’s basketball to 2nd round of C-USA tourney
March 11
13:18 2021

Starting out the Conference USA tournament on a high note, the men’s basketball team defeated Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday by a score of 76-56.

With the victory, North Texas (14-9, 9-5 C-USA) advanced to the second round of the C-USA tournament and will face Old Dominion University (15-7, 11-5 C-USA) on Thursday at 9 p.m.

A hot shooting night propelled the Mean Green to victory as they shot 30-of-55 (54.5 percent) from the field and 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) from deep.

“Everybody was just aggressive,” Senior guard James Reese said. “If we were open, we were thinking shot, stepping into it, rhythm shots. If you were guarded, just pass it to the open man. That’s our golden rule. Kudos to J-Ham [and] everybody who passed the ball, it’s hitting us right in the money spot, got to make it.”

Timely defense also played a role as North Texas held the Blue Raiders (5-18, 3-13 C-USA) to 20 points on 29.2 percent shooting in the second half after an early 3-point barrage. Despite shooting 9-of-23 overall in the first half, Middle Tennessee trailed by nine at halftime due to hot 3-point shooting (7-of-12 in the first half) and taking advantage at the foul line (11-of-13 in the first half).

“Our guys responded and figured out a way to get some stops at the end of the half,” Head coach Grant McCasland said. “I thought [that] kind of showed we’re taking some strides in the right direction. You take a punch and you’re able to get it back and still find a way to go into the half up nine, that was huge.”

Offensively, North Texas was led by three seniors in guards Javion Hamlet and Reese and forward Thomas Bell who all scored in double figures.

Looking like last season’s C-USA Player of the Year, Hamlet tallied a double-double with 21 points and 11 assists to go along with seven rebounds. Bell added 19 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 on 3-pointers. Reese added 15 points and three steals and a block, making three of his five 3-point attempts.

“We didn’t run offense, we tried to get right into some actions that would put [Hamlet] in a downhill, aggressive way to play the game,” McCasland said. “I thought that helped him, and MTSU played man, so they didn’t go to any of their zones the whole first half, so we kind of got into a rhythm of how we wanted to play.”

Throughout the game, North Texas was called for more fouls than the Blue Raiders. The Mean Green picked up 17 fouls to 12 for Middle Tennessee and were called for seven of the second half’s first eight fouls before several fouls down the stretch by MTSU tightened the margin up a bit.

“I can’t really comment on the officiating,” Reese said. “But I think they’ll do a better job tomorrow. We just got to keep our hands out of there too, we got to be a little more disciplined. Stay in front of the ball, guard the ball better and keep our hands out of there.”

With his first 3-pointer of the night at the 13:13 mark in the first half, Reese also reached 100 made 3-pointers during his time with the Mean Green.

Up Next: North Texas is slated to tip-off against Old Dominion University on Thursday March 11 at 9:00 p.m.

Featured Image: Redshirt senior Javion Hamlet shoots a three point shot during a game on March 5, 2021 against the University of Alabama Birmingham. Image by Zach Del Bello

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John Fields

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