North Texas Daily

Second half surge propels Rice past North Texas; men’s basketball losing streak at six games

Second half surge propels Rice past North Texas; men’s basketball losing streak at six games

January 14
17:32 2017

Clay Massey | Senior Sports Writer

If an entire college basketball game ran just 20 minutes, Saturday would have been a good day for head coach Tony Benford and the North Texas men’s basketball team.

But college basketball is two 20 minute halves, and in the second half, Rice University outscored the Mean Green (6-11, 0-5) 60-40 and went on win 101-79.

Rice (12-6, 2-3) eclipsed the century scoring mark for the third time this season, and was led by a massive double-double from forward Egor Koulechov. The 6’5 junior from Volgograd, Russia scored 26 points and hauled in 15 rebounds, and Rice had three other players score in double-digits as well.

The Owls have now matched their win total from last season, while North Texas remains winless on the road and in Conference USA play. The Mean Green have lost six straight.

“We just have to put together two halves,” Benford said. “I thought we played well at spots. We have to put forty minutes together. We just didn’t do a good job in controlling tempo. They beat us on the glass. That’s the recipe to get an L.”

Led by strong first half performances from senior guard J-Mychal Reese and junior forward Shane Temara, the Mean Green carried a 39-37 lead into the locker room at halftime. Reese had 15 points at the break while Temara had 12.

The Mean Green trailed Rice by 12 points before going on a 15-1 run to end the first half.

“I was just being aggressive like always,” Reese said.

But in the second half, Rice took over.

The Owls capitalized on 18 North Texas turnovers, and knocked down several easy three-pointers in transition. The Mean Green had multiple stretches of over two and a half minutes of game clock without a basket.

In those stretches, North Texas got to the charity stripe, but failed to convert. The team shot just 47.2 percent going 17-of-36 from the line, which hindered the Mean Green’s chances of getting back into the game.

“We have to finish them,” Benford said. “We didn’t do a good job on that. We need to make our free throws.”

Led by Kucherov, the Owls pulled away from the Mean Green with a 23-3 run to open the second half. Sophomore guard Marcus Evans added 19 points of his own to down North Texas.

“He’s a great player,” Temara said. “He was breaking down defenders easily.”

Next up: North Texas continues its search for its first conference win on the road at Southern Mississippi University. Tipoff is 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We have to stick together,” Benford said. “We can only get ourselves out of this hole we’re in.”

About Author

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell was the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily from May 2017 to December 2017. He previously served as the Sports Editor and Senior Sports Writer. Reece also worked at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

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