North Texas Daily

Recap: Men’s basketball rides stout defense to road win over Thundering Herd

Recap: Men’s basketball rides stout defense to road win over Thundering Herd

Recap: Men’s basketball rides stout defense to road win over Thundering Herd
February 26
23:34 2021

Following a 13-day stretch without a game due to Winter Storm Uri forcing a series postponement, the men’s basketball team returned on Friday and came out with a 77-65 victory over Marshall University.

For North Texas (13-6, Conference USA 9-2), the win meant maintaining its hold on the No. 1 slot in the C-USA West division by having the highest in-conference winning percentage (.818). If the Mean Green win two or more of their final three games of conference play, they are guaranteed to hold the No. 1 seed in the West heading into the conference tournament.

In allowing 65 points to the Thundering Herd, the Mean Green held Marshall (12-6, C-USA 6-5) to its lowest point total of the season, with its next lowest being 67 points scored on Jan. 17 against Western Kentucky University (15-5, C-USA 8-2). As the Thundering Herd came into the matchup averaging 82.5 points per game, North Texas’ defense held them more than 17 points below their scoring average.

“Honestly, we just did what we are taught to do,” Senior forward Thomas Bell said. “We stayed in our defensive principles. We kept them to the side, we were able to be physical, be the tougher team. [We] crashed the glass hard and limited shot opportunities. They get [shots] up quickly on fast breaks, we did a good job getting back in transition and that’s what controlled the pace of the game. We were able to stay ahead even when they went on runs.”

North Texas took a 9-3 lead early and never trailed in the game, building its lead to 23-13 with 10:43 to go in the first half. The Herd rallied with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 23 with 8:05 to go, but North Texas rebuilt its lead and held a 34-27 advantage at halftime.

The Mean Green then fended off several second-half runs by Marshall to maintain their lead. They built up to their largest advantage of the game late after a dagger 3-pointer from senior guard Javion Hamlet made it a 14-point game with 1:28 left.

Two seniors in Bell and guard James Reese were key contributors in the game. Reese tied his season-high with 21 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Bell stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

“I try to bring it every night because I know my team needs that intensity,” Bell said. “I just try to bring what my team needs. If they need me to be physical, get on the floor, get rebounds, be active, get steals and just be me, that gives us the best chance to win and keeps us in games. I just try to do my job and do it to the best of my ability.”

The Mean Green dominated in the lane, scoring 40 points in the paint to 20 for Marshall and outrebounding the Thundering Herd 38-to-24. North Texas also made the most of 13 Marshall turnovers in scoring 16 points off of them, compared to the Thundering Herd scoring 10 points off North Texas’ 18 turnovers.

“You can get some transition baskets when you do turn them over and get stops,” Head coach Grant McCasland said. “I felt like, if we could do a good job guarding the ball, we could get opportunities like that. But you can’t get them unless you do a good job on the ball. […] They make decisions quickly and if you take […] away their first two options, sometimes they try to throw a quicker pass than maybe they want to. It was a good, physical, defensive game for us.”

UP NEXT: Men’s basketball will look to complete a sweep of Marshall tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT as the two squads face off in the second game of the back-to-back.

Featured Image: Senior guard James Reese rises up for a dunk against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 6, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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