North Texas Daily

RECAP: Men’s basketball downed by UTSA’s hot-shooting second half

RECAP: Men’s basketball downed by UTSA’s hot-shooting second half

RECAP: Men’s basketball downed by UTSA’s hot-shooting second half
January 09
21:33 2021

A little more than 21 hours after defeating the Roadrunners 77-70 on Friday night, North Texas men’s basketball (5-5, 1-1 Conference USA) lost to UT-San Antonio (5-6, 1-3 C-USA) on Saturday by a score of 77-69.

The two games’ final scores were nearly mirror images of each other and, overall, played out in roughly the same way. In both contests, North Texas held a lead at halftime (38-28 on Friday, 34-31 on Saturday) before UTSA’s offense came out scorching in the second halves (42 points on Friday, 46 points on Saturday).

The difference on Saturday was North Texas’ inability to keep pace with UTSA in the second half due to a lack of defensive stops combined with poor shooting. The Mean Green shot 9-of-30 (30 percent) in the second half, including 4-of-16 (25 percent) on 3-pointers, compared to 15-of-25 (60 percent) overall and 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) from deep for UTSA.

Foul trouble was an issue for North Texas as senior forward Zachary Simmons picked picked up his third foul with 5:34 left in the first half and got his fourth just nine seconds into the second half, which led to him playing a season-low 18 minutes after he saw 31 minutes of action on Friday. Head coach Grant McCasland said missing Simmons, who had 11 points and three rebounds in his limited action, really hurt the team offensively as they struggled to hit shots in the second half.

“We outrebounded them, got to the free throw line more than they did, just couldn’t figure out a way to find that balance offensively of shooting threes or getting to the paint when Zach was out,” McCasland said. “It was huge, it was the difference in the game. […] We couldn’t find that rhythm, offensively, with him off the floor.”

A big part of UTSA’s offensive success, as usual, was big contributions from senior guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, as Jackson led the way with 31 points — including 26 in the second half — on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting and Wallace added 14 points himself.

Another key contributor for the Roadrunners, however, was 6-foot-11 sophomore center Jacob Germany, who finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds, shooting 7-of-10 from the field. McCasland said both Jackson and Wallace seemed to get stronger as the game went on, but Germany scored several timely baskets as well, particularly in making a layup and dunk down the stretch to keep UTSA ahead and suck the North Texas defense into the paint.

“Late in the game, [Germany] got those two layups,” McCasland said. “We got extended trying to guard Jackson, we got extended trying to guard Wallace, and he ended up with the ball in the paint. We weren’t moving like we needed to, and you could tell we got out of sync with our rotations with our personnel. We had different guys out there playing, and it really hurt our rhythm. That’s where inexperience, on the road, gets exposed, and I thought we got exposed with our inexperience on the floor.”

Leading the way for North Texas was senior guard Javion Hamlet, who finished with 18 points and three rebounds on a second-straight rough shooting night which saw him go 4-of-15 from the field, making Hamlet a combined 8-for-28 shooting for the series. McCasland said the Roadrunners did a good job making life difficult for Hamlet and taking him out of his element.

“They did a great job of lowering the ball screens and bottling [Hamlet] up in the middle of the floor,” McCasland said. “So, they gave him the 3-point shot, and he took a few of ’em and made one, but if they’re gonna play that far off of you, then it’s hard to get in a rhythm if you’re second-guessing and you’re not confident the ball’s going in. To be honest, he’s trying really, really hard. You can sense that he’s trying maybe a little too hard to be something for our team. […] We’ll get it turned around, just, at the moment, you can tell he’s feeling the responsibility of this team to try to help us win.”

UP NEXT: North Texas is set to return home for its second series of conference play as it hosts UT-El Paso in the Super Pit on Jan. 15 and 16.

Featured Image: Senior forward Thomas Bell drives by Houston Baptist defender on Dec. 17, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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