Combs's 28 Points Not Enough In Loss To Marshall
Mean Green Unable To Overcome Herd's Fast Start In 97-78 Defeat
Jeremy Combs had a career-high 28 points and 18 rebounds Thursday. (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - Thursday night, North Texas was looking to continue building the momentum that has been growing in a stretch that has seen NT win three of its last four games and play its best basketball of the season.
Instead, the Mean Green got hit by the train that is rampaging through Conference USA.
League co-leader Marshall, the hottest team in C-USA, led wire-to-wire Thursday at the Super Pit in a 97-78 win over North Texas. The Herd has won four straight, all by more than 18 points and scoring 90-plus points in each.
"This is the worst game we've played all year," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "For some reason, they were more ready than we were. We've been playing well, but we got hit in the mouth tonight."
Marshall simply overwhelmed North Texas from the start. The Herd struck for a trio of two-handed dunks and a trio of three-point field goals in the first five minutes to sprint to a double-digit lead. North Texas tried to respond, getting another big performance from Jeremy Combs, who scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the first half. Combs finished with a career-high 28 points and 18 rebounds for the ninth double- double of his career, sixth of the season and third in a row.
But the rest of the Mean Green offense - without leading scorer Deckie Johnson, out due to injury - was largely punchless, hitting just five of its first 16 field-goal attempts on the way to a 35-percent shooting effort in the first half.
"I thought we really missed Deckie Johnson," Benford said. "He sets the tone for us offensively and is a good defender."
The Herd, meanwhile, didn't allow the Mean Green a moment's breath. Marshall, winners of just five of its last 44 road games, sliced up the NT defense with pin-point passes inside and unconcious shooting outside, making 55.6 percent (10 of 18 from six different shooters) of its three-point attempts to swell the lead to 28 points, the biggest halftime deficit North Texas has faced this season.
"They were on fire early and we just couldn't guard them," Benford said. "You give up 10 threes in the first half, its going to be a long night."
North Texas was unable to mount a serious challenge in the second half.
This was the first meeting between North Texas and Marshall in Denton.
North Texas made four three-point field goals to top the 100 mark for the season. North Texas has made 101 three-point field goals.
The Mean Green conclude their three-game homestand Saturday when they host Western Kentucky. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Super Pit.