North Texas Daily

Second half run sends men’s basketball past Grambling State

Second half run sends men’s basketball past Grambling State

Second half run sends men’s basketball past Grambling State
November 27
22:55 2017

As the old adage goes, basketball is a game of runs. That raggedy phrase rang ever so true when North Texas faced Grambling State University Monday night at the Super Pit. 

Trailing 38-36 at halftime, the Mean Green came out of the locker room swinging and hit the Tigers with a 23-2 run in the opening seven minutes, surging out to a 59-40 lead.

After being staggered, Grambling came back with a counter of its own in the form of a 32-12 run over the following 10 minutes to tie the game at 72-72 with 3:00 left.

Thanks to clutch free throws down the stretch, the Mean Green were able to hold off the Tigers in a 82-77 win.

“I felt like we came out and executed really well in the second half early to get that lead,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “And then, Ryan Woolridge on the ball, guarding number one, was the game changer.”

Sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge was the head of the snake of the Mean Green (4-3) man-to-man defense. The defense held the Tigers (1-5) to under 46 percent shooting for the game and allowed just 12 assists by repeatedly closing out hard on shooters.

“We turned them over a little bit at the start of the second half and our activity led to a few easy baskets,” McCasland said. “And we need to learn how to finish the game better, but I was proud of the way we made free throws and found a way to get stops.”

North Texas did not attempt one free throw in the first half, which was a large reason for the Tigers holding the early lead. However, in the second half, the Mean Green went 16-of-20 from the line.

Freshman forward Zachary Simmons had one of his best games of the season to date with 11 points and three key blocks. He sparked the second half run and played a majority of the minutes for the team at the lone big position.

“Coach talked about guarding the ball, playing defense and getting stops, so that was our main focus,” Simmons said. “The guys were getting me the ball and they were quick and easy finishes and that’s really what started the run, playing good defense and getting out in transition.”

North Texas’ offense shot 57.7 percent from the field against the Grambling zone, which at times brought some full-court pressure.

The Mean Green zone offense showed a lot of improvement after struggling against UT Rio Grande Valley just a week ago.

“It was better,” sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart said. “We still made a couple of turnovers but I feel like we played it better than we did against Rio.”

Smart led the team with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line.

The Mean Green assisted on 14 of their 30 buckets on the night and had five scorers in double figures. The offense did just enough to escape with a win against Grambling State.

“We’ve been talking a lot about sharing the ball, making the simple play and getting everybody involved,” McCasland said. “You can tell we’re making progress in that area and it shows up in the box score when you have this many guys scoring.”

Next up: North Texas will take on Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Norman.

Featured Image: Shane Temara blocks a Grambling State shot in North Texas win over the Tigers Monday at the Super Pit. Dana McCurdy

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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