Duffy Erupts For 31 As Mean Green Move To CBI Semifinal
Smart Joins Duffy With 31, Woolridge Has Double-Double
DENTON - Two games into a lineup experiment, it appears UNT head coach Grant McCasland is on to something.
He'll have a chance to reap the reward of his lineup shift for at least one more game, as the Mean Green stormed out to a big lead it never relinquished and topped Mercer 96-67 in a CBI quarterfinal game at the Super Pit on Monday night, led by 31 points each from Roosevelt Smart and Jorden Duffy, who was making his second career start. Duffy scored 19 points in Wednesday's CBI win at South Dakota - his first career start. It was the largest margin of victory in the 11-year history of the tournament.
"Our guard play with Jorden Duffy added in, he's such a difference maker because of his playmaking ability," McCasland said. "He's not just a shooter. He had four assists, two turnovers and two steals. He doesn't just shoot 3-pointers either. He was 5-for-6 inside the arc. He gives you a different dynamic."
UNT went with a small-ball lineup for the second straight game, and once again it paid dividends as McCasland gave Duffy and Michael Miller the starting nod. Miller also made his second career start, in consecutive games, but it was Duffy who was the story. The 6-1 junior guard finished 11-for-16 from the field and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. That lineup has now produced consecutive games of at least 90 points.
"We have guys on the floor who are shooting it really well and spacing is so much better," said McCasland, who also watched his leading scorer Smart go for 31 points with the help of four 3-pointers and an 11-for-12 performance from the foul line. "We jumped on them to start this game in transition and then you hold a team that's one of the best offensive teams in the country to 19 percent from [beyond the arc] and 35 percent from field, that was huge for us. It was just a complete game for us. It's fun to see these guys having fun."
The game was never in doubt, as UNT led for nearly 38 of the 40 minutes and shot 56 percent from the field, including a torrid 65.4 percent in the second half.
Sophomore point guard Ryan Woolridge also had a huge night, as the Mansfield native scored 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting to go with a career-high tying 11 assists. He also had a steal and four blocked shots to go with two rebounds.
"We took care of the ball and made the right plays and outrebounded them," McCasland said. "We had two guys with double-doubles and Duffy is finally about 75 or 80 percent of what he can be [with injury]. That's exciting."
North Texas held Mercer (19-15) senior Ria'n Holland to 1-for-6 from the field for just two points after he entered the game averaging 18.5 points per game, but he did play nursing a wrist injury.
Now, UNT lives to play another day and is one win away from moving on to the best-of-three series for the CBI championship. Better yet, the Mean Green get another home game as they'll host Jacksonville State in a semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m.
After the game Monday, McCasland took the house mic and addressed the raucous crowd, thanking them for their support.
"It was just a fun place to be a part of a college basketball game," McCasland said. "Big picture, I feel blessed to be playing in March and our fans can get a taste of it and what it's like to make a run. I want this to be something we do regularly. I really am thankful for the people showing up and being a part of winning. They made a huge difference tonight. What a great crowd."
North Texas (17-17) returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts one of two CBI semifinal games at 7 p.m.
- Ryan Woolridge's 11 assists tied a career high and gives him 196 dimes on the season. He is now just 12 assists shy of the tying Walter Johnson's single-season record of 208 in the 1976-77 season.
- Roosevelt Smart's key stat Monday was his 31 points, but he also had a career-high 11 rebounds - the first double-digit rebound game of his career.
- UNT hit 12 3-pointers on the night to extend its single-season program record to 276 made 3-pointers on the season.
- North Texas used some big runs to control the night, as a 14-2 run early on was capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Jorden Duffy and Michael Miller. Toward the end of the first half, UNT went on a 14-0 run over four-and-a-half minutes to build 42-20 lead.
- First time since 1998-99 the Mean Green have scored 90-points or more in back-to-back games against division one opponents.
- First time since 1969 that two North Texas players have scored 30 points or more in a game - when Crest Whitaker had 36 and Joe Hamilton had 31 vs. Drake on 1/30/1969.