North Texas Daily

RECAP: Men’s basketball cooks Rice in first match up of the year

RECAP: Men’s basketball cooks Rice in first match up of the year

RECAP: Men’s basketball cooks Rice in first match up of the year
January 29
20:42 2021

Despite not seeing any gameplay since topping University of Texas at El Paso (7-8, 3-6 Conference-USA) 74-65 on Jan. 16, the men’s basketball squad (8-5, 4-1 C-USA) edged out a win against Rice University (10-7, 4-5 C-USA) on Friday by a score of 79-74.

With 3:28 left in the game, senior guard James Reese jumped to contest a 3-pointer and landed awkwardly, grabbing his left ankle after the play. Reese was able to walk off the court under his own power and sat out for the rest of the game, but head coach Grant McCasland said he does not think Reese sustained a serious injury.

“He asked to go back in the game, and [when] I asked him how he was feeling when we walked in the locker room, he said ‘I’m good coach,'” McCasland said. “I don’t have any concern with that, I think it probably scared him a little bit more than anything. He wanted to go back in, I just felt like it was best to rest him in that situation.”

In what was a close game throughout with neither team leading by more than seven points, senior guard Javion Hamlet’s career night scoring the ball made the difference for the Mean Green.

Hamlet finished with a career-high 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting and came up big late in the second half, scoring or assisting on 18 of North Texas’ final 22 points. In the final 37 seconds, he made a contested floater and hit five free throws to seal the win.

“I thought Javion, at the end of the game, was just tremendous,” McCasland said. “[He] made that pass to Drez when he made that three, made that floater in the paint, made his free throws, he just knows how to close.”

McCasland said Hamlet told him he would close the game out during a timeout late in the second half.

“You’re in those timeouts at the end of the game, and [Hamlet] had missed a pretty difficult layup with four minutes to go in the game,” McCasland said. “I was like ‘Hey man, jump stop and finish,’ and he said ‘Coach, I got you, I’m gonna close this.’ He’s just got such a competitor’s, winner’s mentality. It’s really a credit to how hard he works and the effort he puts in off the floor in practice that makes the biggest difference.”

After two games against Old Dominion were postponed last week due to COVID-19 issues in the Monarchs’ program, Hamlet said it was a blessing for the team to get back on the court and their execution was improved from the beginning of the season.

“It’s a blessing, a big blessing,” Hamlet said. “We’ve been anxious to play, got the game canceled last week and couldn’t play. To be able to come out here and compete, it’s just a blessing. I’m proud ’cause [in the] beginning of the season, we weren’t executing like that and stuff was discombobulated. We’re just getting better each and every day at practice, and we’re about to hit our peak in a minute.”

UP NEXT: Men’s basketball will return to Denton and try to sweep Rice on Sunday with tip off set for 3 p.m.

Featured Image: Redshirt senior guard Javion Hamlet celebrates after scoring a layup and a foul against UTEP on Jan. 16, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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