Brown Scores Career High But Mean Green Fall To Middle Tennessee
Sophomore Ja'Michael Brown Scores Career-High 21 Points In Loss
DENTON - A late first half run gave Middle Tennessee a 10-point halftime they would never relinquish in a 79-68 victory against North Texas Saturday afternoon at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green (6-10, 0-4 C-USA) had a tough task going up against the best team in the Conference USA in Middle Tennessee (13-3, 3-0 C-USA). The Blue Raiders had the No. 16 RPI coming in and three top players in Reggie Upshaw, Giddy Potts and Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams. Upshaw, Potts and Williams combined for 48 points in the victory.
North Texas tried to snap a four-game losing streak but the Mean Green couldn't keep Middle Tennessee off the glass. The Blue Raiders came away with 13 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points.
"I thought we really played hard today but couldn't get enough rebounds," head coach Tony Benford said. "They have three terrific players and I feel like we made them work for everything they got today. I was really proud of the way Ja'Michael (Brown) played being aggressive with his shots."
Ja'Michael Brown kept North Texas within striking distance after tying his career high with 21 points (7-for-12), including 15 in the second half. Brown also went 5-of-8 from downtown and pulled down five rebounds. Freshman A.J. Lawson finished with 14 points off the bench and shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
In the opening minutes both teams exchange baskets in a fast paced offensive outburst. Just four minutes into the game, the score was tied at 9-9 off a jumper by Middle Tennessee's Willams.
The Mean Green pulled ahead 18-13 after two free throws from Lawson. The Blue Raiders tied the game again at 20-20 on a layup by Karl Gamble with 8:51 left in the first half.
With about six minutes left in the half, North Texas led 25-24 before Middle Tennessee closed the half on a 13-2 run to lead by 10 at intermission 37-27.
The Blue Raiders continued the momentum into the second half pushing the lead to 20 points at 57-37 off a jumper by Williams with 11:29 remaining. Middle Tennessee known for its great ball handling only committed five turnovers and dished out 17 assists.
Williams drained another mid-range jumper to give the Blue Raiders a 21-point lead with four minutes left. North Texas started to chip away after Brown scored five points to cut the advantage to 72-57. With 1:16 left, Brown drained another three-pointer to get within 14 points at 76-62.
The Mean Green outscored Middle Tennessee 17-7 in the last four minutes but never got the game under single digits in the second half.
North Texas heads out on the road to take on Rice on Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hits
-Brown tied his career high with five three-pointers (5-of-8)
-Lawson shot perfect from the field, three-point line and free throw line, first North Texas player to do that since Tristan Thompson in 2008
-North Texas tied their season high with 14 assists
-Mean Green shot 57.1 percent from the three-point line (8-for-14), second best this season
-North Texas missed 13 free throws, second most this season
-Junior Jeremy Combs scored in double figures for the 44th time this season
-Second time this season, North Texas has started this lineup (Reese, Woolridge, Brown, Combs, Green)