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Recap: Men’s basketball swept by Alabama-Birmingham on senior night to end regular season

Recap: Men’s basketball swept by Alabama-Birmingham on senior night to end regular season

Recap: Men’s basketball swept by Alabama-Birmingham on senior night to end regular season
March 07
02:03 2021

Less than 24 hours after falling to the Blazers on Friday night, North Texas men’s basketball lost to the University of Alabama-Birmingham once again on Saturday by a score of 65-61.

“UAB, they were hitting us first,” Senior guard James Reese said. “We were playing not to lose, they were the team playing like they had something to play for. Give credit to them, they came out here in our home place, beat us two times and were the tougher team both nights.”

In losing both games to the Blazers (21-6, Conference-USA 13-5), North Texas (13-9, C-USA 9-5) suffered its first series sweep of conference play. The two losses coming at home were also uncharacteristic for the Mean Green, who came into the series having gone 8-1 on their home court.

After sustaining a second loss to UAB, North Texas finished the regular season at No. 3 in the C-USA West division, behind No. 1 Louisiana Tech University (20-6, C-USA 12-4) and No. 2 UAB.

A notable loss for the Mean Green, freshman guard Rubin Jones went down with an apparent leg injury with 10:05 remaining in the first half. Jones exited the game at that point and was attended to by the trainer. He came out after the halftime break on crutches and did not re-enter the game.

Head coach Grant McCasland said postgame he was not sure how serious Jones’ injury is or whether it will keep him out of games.

UAB dictated the action for most of the first half and the game in general, leading for its entirety and often holding a 10-point advantage or more. After trailing by double digits for much of the second half’s first 10 minutes, North Texas rallied to cut UAB’s lead to four points with 8:28 left and came within two twice within the final 1:02. The Mean Green could not complete the comeback, however, missing opportunities to tie the game down the stretch and ultimately succumbing to UAB’s made free throws.

“We took a step in the right direction because we showed a little fight at the end,” Reese said. “With good teams like [UAB], you can’t dig a hole like that.”

The Mean Green held UAB to 29 points on 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from the field in the second half, giving them a chance to come back from the halftime deficit. McCasland said the team stymied its own efforts, however, in allowing eight offensive rebounds and giving UAB 20 free throw attempts in the second half, of which they made 17.

“We had to stay on defense for longer than we wanted to because they kept getting offensive rebounds and then we were fouling ’em,” McCasland said. “The only way they scored, really, was from the free throw line. And to their credit, they went and made ’em.”

With the game also marking senior day for the Mean Green, they received 58 of their 61 points from their four senior starters — guards Javion Hamlet and James Reese and forwards Thomas Bell and Zachary Simmons. The other three points came on an early 3-pointer by Jones.

Hamlet led the way with 19 points, five assists and two steals, while Bell contributed 18 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal. After a cold first half, Reese finished with 11 points and two steals. Simmons fouled out of the game with 55 seconds remaining, posting 10 points and six boards on the day.

Up Next: Men’s basketball will return to action at the C-USA tournament on March 10 at 9 p.m., playing the winner of Florida International University (9-17, 2-15) versus Middle Tennessee State University (5-17, 3-13).

Featured Image: Redshirt senior Javion Hamlet waits for a play to develop against University of Alabama-Birmingham on March 6, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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