Shooting Barrage Sends Mean Green To CBI Championship Series
UNT Hits 14 3-Pointers To Roll To Rout
DENTON - An old adage says good things come in threes.
For the North Texas men's basketball team Wednesday night, that could not have been more true.
The Mean Green torched the nets from beyond the arc, hitting 14 of 20 3-pointers, and North Texas hit at least 90 points for the third straight time to win its third straight game in the CBI and advance to the best-of-three championship series next week with a 90-68 win over Jacksonville State.
"This is a great time for us," UNT coach Grant McCasland said. "Any time you're winning, it helps. Everyone recognizes that we're winning and in a good place. It's fun being a part of this. I hope our fans are enjoying it. Hopefully we can continue this next week and get a huge crowd and play for a championship."
The Mean Green (18-17) move on to face the winner of Thursday's semifinal game between Campbell and San Francisco in the best-of-three series that would begin Monday.
North Texas had five players score in double figures, led by Roosevelt Smart's 20 points, and Jorden Duffy had his third straight big night in his third career start, scoring 19 points on the heels of 5-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Mean Green shot 70 percent from the field in the first half, which saw them score 57 points - the most in a half since the season-opening win over Eureka College. UNT ended the game shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 70 percent from three-point range.
"As a team, I think we're sharing the ball well," McCasland said. "Our ball movement got better. Unfortunately, the game got ugly and we took our foot off the gas a bit, but I thought we shared the ball great. When you know the ball is gonna be moved, you can catch and shoot and be comfortable. When guys are shooting well with good ball movement, they're shooting with confidence."
McCasland credited his sophomore point guard Ryan Woolridge with helping open up looks for his trio of big three-point threats - Smart, Duffy and DJ Draper. Woolridge scored 12 points and dished out nine assists.
"When you have three guys who are threats from outside and a guy like Ryan driving like he does and running the show, it's a tough cover," McCasland said. "We've competed all year long, but we've just now gotten our full complement together. When you have junior college guys, it sometimes takes some time but i'm thankful for the CBI so we can buy into that and compete for this. The way they've bought in says a lot about our character and our approach."
As hot as UNT was shooting the ball, the Mean Green also excelled on the defensive end and outrebounded Jacksonville State (23-13) 38-23. In the first half, the Gamecocks had one team rebound and no second-chance points.
"That's how we got up that big," McCasland said. "Our defensive rebounding and our aggressiveness on that end was why we played so well. Our defense has been as good as our offense. They shot 37 percent from field. If they don't shoot 21 free throws and make 19 of them, it's an even more impressive performance."
North Texas (18-17) returns to action on Monday when it opens the CBI championship series, a best-of-three series, against the winner of Thursday's semifinal between Campbell and San Francisco.
- Ryan Woolridge's nine assists gives him 205 dimes on the season. He is now just three assists shy of the tying Walter Johnson's single-season record of 208 in the 1976-77 season.
- UNT hit 14 3-pointers on the night to extend its single-season program record to 290 made 3-pointers on the season. The 14-for-20 performance marks the fourth-best three-point percentage in a game (73 percent) in program history. The 14 makes ties for the fifth-most in program history and is the most since December 2007.
- 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.
- UNT opened game on 13-2 run, Jacksonville State didn't have first field goal until nearly six minutes into the game.
- At one point in the first half, UNT made 14 of 15 field goal attempts to help spur a 57-point first half in which UNT shot 70 percent from the field and made 10 of 14 shots from beyond the arc.
- The last time UNT scored 90 or more points against Division I opponents in three straight games was 1997-98. It marks first time since the 1990-91 season that UNT has beaten three straight Division I opponents by scoring 90 points or more.
- The win marks the Mean Green's third three-game (or more) winning streak of the season, which is the most since 2010-11, when there were also three such streaks.
- UNT had five players score in double figures - Roosevelt Smart, Jorden Duffy, DJ Draper, Zachary Simmons and Ryan Woolridge - marking the first time since an overtime loss to Western Kentucky on Feb. 15 that the Mean Green have had five or more players reach double figures.
- The Mean Green shot 71 percent from the charity stripe and are now 11-0 this season when shooting better than 70 percent from the foul line.