North Texas Daily

Suffocating defense propels men’s basketball to route of Delaware State

Suffocating defense propels men’s basketball to route of Delaware State

December 08
21:51 2016

As the North Texas offense swung the ball around the perimeter, the next move was getting the ball inside. It’s the patented formula for Benford’s inside-outside approach, and on Thursday, it worked to perfection.

The Mean Green (5-4) rinsed and repeated to the tune of 42 points in the paint en route to a 73-40 win over Delaware State University.

For a man who preaches paint touches, head coach Tony Benford was loving what he saw.

“I wish that we could get that every night,” Benford said. “You shoot a high percentage and what it does if you’re aggressive is it gets you to the foul line. That’s what we want to do.”

But the real reason the Mean Green won was a dominant defensive performance. North Texas allowed just 19 second half points after allowing 21 in the first.

The 2-3 zone Benford put in place worked, and the Mean Green nearly set a record for fewest points allowed in a game.

“Looking at the tape against [the University of Texas at Arlington] the zone got us back in the game,” Benford said. “I’m really pleased with the effort of these guys and the toughness they played with.”

The Hornets’ (2-8) output was the lowest from an opponent since New Year’s Eve 2013 when North Texas held Texas A&M University to just 41 points. The Mean Green also set a new season-low in turnovers with just five.

On the offensive side of the ball, North Texas was led by junior forward Jeremy Combs, who started for the first time in five games. Combs came up just short of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

“I felt like we were energetic [on defense],” Combs said. “We were flying around. Everybody was on the same page. I felt like we did our jobs.”

The first half, however, was not perfect from the Mean Green. North Texas jumped out to a lead, but a four minute scoring drought let the Hornets claw back into the ballgame. The Mean Green led 17-2 before a 12-0 run from Delaware State.

Sophomore guard Allante Holston made a free-throw to stop the run from the Hornets, who got to within five points before North Texas put the game to bed.

After nursing an early season ankle injury, Combs poured in 11 points in the first half, and insists he has trending in the right direction.

“I’m feeling good,” Combs said. “I’m rehabbing every day. I’m getting better every day.”

Holston helped the Mean Green take over the second half, attacking the rim with two massive dunks. Sophomore center Rickey Brice Jr. cleaned the glass for 11 rebounds and had two blocks to help keep Delaware State at bay.

“I don’t think it was nothing I couldn’t do,” Holston said. “My teammates brought the energy along. We didn’t try to settle for threes and I feel the guards were a lot less selfish.”

Next up: The Mean Green travel to take on Sam Houston State University at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17.

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore guard Allante Holston (5) drives the lane for a layup. Holston scored 12 points. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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