North Texas Daily

Unexpected contributors barrage men’s basketball in road loss to Louisiana Tech

Unexpected contributors barrage men’s basketball in road loss to Louisiana Tech

January 18
22:01 2018

Louisiana Tech freshman forward Anthony Duruji came into the game against North Texas averaging 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in just over 18 minutes of action.

With the game resting on his ability to hit two free throws, the 59 percent free throw shooter stepped to the line for the Bulldogs and sunk both shots with ease. The free throws put Louisiana Tech up 66-65 with .9 seconds remaining and capped a 25 point, seven rebound outburst by Duruji in 35 minutes of play.

The subsequent North Texas inbounds pass went awry and the Mean Green fell on the road 66-65.

“From a scouting report perspective I thought we did what we wanted to do,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “We needed to keep [Duruji] out of the paint and he goes for 25 points and was 4-for-7 from three when he’s made seven all year long. So we played the numbers there.”

The Bulldogs (11-9, 2-5) also had freshman Amorie Archibald drop 21 points despite averaging just 4.1 points per game this season. The breakout games proved to be enough against a North Texas (10-9, 3-3) team which fought back from an eight-point deficit to take a late lead in the second half.

The Mean Green defense forced 18 turnovers and hounded the Bulldogs into tough shots late in the second half, allowing the comeback to take place.

“[We] just stayed to what we do [defensively],” sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart said. “Don’t do too much, [don’t] foul and we were able to get back in the game and had a chance to win it.”

Smart finished as the lone double-digit scorer for North Texas as he totaled 23 points on 7-of-18 3-point shooting and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

After him, five other players scored between six to nine points — but no one was able to give McCasland a reliable second option. Freshman forward Zachary Simmons scored nine points in the first half but went scoreless in the second while sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge dished out 10 assists and managed seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.

The Mean Green offense scored 40 points in the second half after putting up just 25 in the first. In the end, it was too little too late.

McCasland, who took over the program in the off-season, picked up the first technical foul of his North Texas career late in the first half.

“In the second half we were more aggressive attacking the rim,” McCasland said. “[We did] a good job getting to the bonus. We tried to get baskets at the rim but give them credit because they ended up with seven blocks.”

A.J. Lawson returned from a sprained wrist which forced him to sit last game against Rice and he pitched in eight points, seven rebounds and two steals on the night.

The game marked the first conference road loss for the Mean Green and it’s the second loss against a team with a worse record in Conference USA play than their own.

This is the fifth time in the last six games that the final score has been decided by three or fewer points. Even this late in the season though, Smart knows there are still lessons to be learned.

“We have to be tougher,” Smart said. “We definitely should have won that game but we have to move on because we have another one Saturday.”

Next up: McCasland’s team heads to Hattiesburg to take on the University of Southern Mississippi at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Featured image: University of North Texas Mean Green Men’s Basketball v Old Dominion University at the Super Pit in Denton on January 6, 2018 (Photo Rick Yeatts Photography/Colin Mitchell)

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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