North Texas Ends Season With 82-54 Loss To Rice
Mean Green Dispatched In Opening Round of C-USA Tournament
Jeremy Combs had 16 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday night (photo by Rick Yeatts)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An offensive drought encompassing the final four minutes of the first half and more than five minutes of the second spelled an end to the North Texas men's basketball team's 2014-15 season in an 82-54 loss to Rice Wednesday night in the opening-round of the Conference USA Championships.
In a span of 9:37, North Texas, the No. 8 seed in the tournament, didn't hit a field goal, managed only four points and saw the Owls turn a three-point lead into a commanding 17-point advantage. The Mean Green's anemic shooting never abated. North Texas made just seven field goals and scored just 24 points in the second half, connecting on 29 percent of its field-goal attempts on the night.
On the other end of the floor, meanwhile, North Texas could not defend ninth-seeded Rice at the three-point arc. The Owls tallied 11 threes, but also bested the Mean Green in the paint (30-16) and in rebounds (46-33) while not allowing North Texas any fast-break points. The Mean Green's performance led its biggest loss of the season to a team it beat twice this year.
"It was the worst game we've played this year," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "But Rice had a lot to do with that."
"They just beat us, plain and simple," North Texas senior Colin Voss said.
For the third time in the last four games against the Owls, North Texas fell behind early by double digits, and, as was the case on Jan. 31 in Denton, Rice built that advantage from the three-point line. The Owls got open looks and hit five of their first 10 long-distance attempts to open an 11-point lead, 21-10.
The Mean Green, although unable to establish an offensive rhythm, battled to shave the lead to five, in large part due to the efforts of Jeremy Combs. The freshman pounded the boards to grab six rebounds, including four offensive, while scoring seven points in the first half. A Voss hook four minutes before halftime drew North Texas within three, 29-26, but the Mean Green didn't make another field goal the rest of the half, and Rice's Marcus Jackson, the game's top scorer with 28, drilled the Owls' sixth three-pointer of the first half to spark Rice to a 38-30 halftime lead.
Combs was the lone bright spot for North Texas. He capped his stellar debut season with a double-double (16 points, 15 rebounds). The C-USA All-Freshman-team selection finished with three double-doubles on the year.
This was the second-straight season North Texas has faced Rice in the opening round of the Conference USA Championships. Last year, the Mean Green rallied from a 13-point deficit to post a 63-62 overtime victory.
North Texas senior Jordan Williams ended his collegiate career with 1,501 points, ranked ninth in school history.
NT ends the 2014-15 season on a four-game losing streak, and finishes with a 14-17 record. This marks the 33rd season of 14 or more wins in the 97-year history of the program.
Wednesday's 28-point loss is the most lopsided in the series since a a 35-point, 72-37 loss to the Owls in Houston on Dec. 12, 1939.
Voss finished with two assists, giving him 58 on the year - third most ever by a Mean Green forward.
NT is now 16-7 in conference tournament games since 2006-07.
North Texas swept Rice in the regular season this year, winning in Houston, 66-63, and in Denton, 75-65. NT had won the last three games against Rice, and seven of the previous eight meetings.