Men's Basketball Downs Sul Ross State, 85-77
Senior Deckie Johnson Led All Scorers With 23 Points
DENTON -- The North Texas men's basketball team opened the 2016-17 season with a 85-77 victory against Sul Ross State Friday night inside the Super Pit.
Four players finished in double figures for the Mean Green to help start 1-0 on the year. Senior Deckie Johnson lead the team with 23 points off a perfect 16-of-16 from the free throw line coming just four made throws away from tying the school record set by Tristan Thompson in 2011.
"I would like to give Sul Ross State credit tonight," head coach Tony Benford said. "They played really hard and were gritty. I thought we did a poor job taking care of the basketball with 24 turnovers. Our returners had a strong showing tonight."
Sophomores Ja'Michael Brown (13 points) and Rickey Brice, Jr. (12 points), each scored in double figures. Brice, Jr., tied his career high with 12 points off six-of-eight shooting and Brown was 3-for-4 from the three-point line.
"I thought Rickey did a great job tonight on the offensive end," Benford said. "He gave us a big boast coming off the bench tonight."
North Texas did a nice job out-rebounding Sul Ross State, 43-to-32, as junior Jeremy Combs finished with seven rebounds. Sophomore Allante Holston came away with six defensive rebounds.
In the first half, both teams started out sloppy with the first points coming two minutes into the game on two free throws from Johnson.
The Mean Green would take a 16-6 lead with 12:33 remaining in the first half but the Lobos would keep fighting back. Back-to-back three pointers from Sul Ross State cut the lead to 21-19 at the 7:48 mark.
Brice, Jr., hit a jumper to give North Texas a 23-22 advantage with just 6:36 left in the half. Freshman A.J Lawson provided a spark scoring six-straight points pushing the lead to 33-25. The Mean Green would lead by 11 points but a 5-0 run to end the half by Sul Ross State made the score 40-34 at halftime.
North Texas would open the second half on an 11-6 run to lead 51-40 off two more free throws from Johnson. The Lobos would not go away cutting the lead to eight off a layup by C.J. Ross to make the score 60-52.
The Mean Green held their largest lead of the night after going on a 13-5 run capped by a layup from Johnson to make it 73-57. With 4:06 remaining, Brice, Jr., hit a jumper to push the lead to 77-59.
The Lobos would end the game on an 18-8 run to make the final score 85-77.
"We have some things to clean up before having to play a tough Texas Tech team Tuesday night," Benford said. "It is a tough place to play but we are looking forward to the challenge. We will be up for the challenge."
Next up for North Texas
North Texas heads to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. on the Fox sports southwest plus network.
Mean Green Quick Hits
-Sophomore Rickey Brice, Jr. tied his career high with 12 points
-Johnson's 16-for-16 night at the free throw line was the most in a regular season game in school history
-A.J. Lawson made his freshman debut with 14 points
-Shane Temara, DJ Draper, Bryce Jackson and Derail Green all made appearances for the first time with North Texas