North Texas Storms Back With Road Win At UTSA, 70-66
Mean Green Erase 15-Point Halftime Deficit
Freshman Ja'Michael Brown led North Texas to a 15-point comeback win at UTSA Friday night (photo by Rick Yeatts).
SAN ANTONIO -- Trailing by 15 points at the half, North Texas men's basketball rallied for a 70-66 comeback win on the road at UTSA Friday night on the American Sports Network in the Conference USA season opener.
The Mean Green used a furious second half outburst outscoring UTSA 45-to-26 improving to 6-8 overall and 1-0 in the C-USA.
"UTSA has a lot of pride and I knew they would come out fighting," head coach Tony Benford said. "In the first half I told our guys at halftime that we were getting outhustled and I am proud of how we responded. In the second half, we executed our offense really well and got ourselves back in the game. What an effort for Ja'Michael Brown and I believe our freshmen really grew up tonight."
North Texas finished the game shooting 47.1 percent from the field off 24-of-51. The Mean Green hit 50.0 percent (9-of-18) from the three point line. NT held UTSA to just 36.7 percent (22-of-60) and only 7-of-20 from downtown.
Four Mean Green players finished in double figures with freshman Ja'Michael Brown scoring a career high 21 points, including 18 in the second half. Brown shot the lights out going 8-of-14 from the field and was 5-for-9 from the three point line. Junior Deckie Johnson finished with 18 points (6-for-6 from the foul line) and seven rebounds. Sophomore Jeremy Combs finished two rebounds shy of a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds. Junior J-Mychal Reese added 15 points and four assists.
In the first half, UTSA built a 15-point lead heading into intermission at 40-25. The Roadrunners scored 16 points off turnovers and led North Texas in second chance points at 11-to-2. The Mean Green was held to zero fast break points and only seven points off the bench.
NT made an immediate 5-0 run to open the second half forcing a UTSA timeout with the score 40-30. A minute later, Brown and Johnson sparked a 9-2 run off three straight three pointers cutting the lead to 45-39 with 16:44 remaining.
The Mean Green kept coming with Johnson scoring five straight points off two made free throws and a three pointer to make the score 51-49 with under nine minutes left. North Texas took its first lead of the game at 53-52 after a Brown jumper at the 7:29 mark.
NT would take a 10-point lead after a fast break dunk from Brown with 4:13 remaining. UTSA would fight back cutting the lead to five with a minute left on a jumper by Ryan Bowie. Bowie scored 20 points in the loss for the Roadrunners.
With North Texas holding on to a 64-61 lead, Combs calmly stepped up and drain two key free throws with 37 seconds left. Reese would hit two more from the charity stripe and a last second three from UTSA's Nick Allen made the final score 70-66.
"We have a young team but we continue to keep getting better," added Benford. "The team gained a lot of confidence tonight going into a tough road game at El Paso.
North Texas remains on the road heading to El Paso to face UTEP at the Don Haskins Center on Sunday, Jan 3 at 4 p.m. central time broadcasted on the American Sports Network.
Mean Green Quick Hits
-Biggest comeback since last season against Middle Tennessee (trailed 37-18 at halftime), won 57-56
-Mean Green outscored UTSA 45-to-26 in the second half
-14th straight start for Deckie Johnson, Jeremy Combs and J-Mychal Reese
-Eighth start for freshman Allante Holston
- Freshman Khalil Fuller earned his 11th start of the season
-Freshman Rickey Brice Jr. grabbed 11 rebounds, two shy of tying his career high of 13
-Junior Deckie Johnson scored in double figures for the 11th time this season
-Freshman Ja'Michael Brown set a new career high with 21 points, scoring in double figures for the sixth time
-Junior J-Mychal Reese scored in double figures for the 12th time this season
-Sophomore Jeremy Combs scored in double figures for the ninth time this season