Season-High 19 Assists Lifts Mean Green Over Rogers State
Smart Posts Team-High 26 Points, Six Three-Pointers
DENTON - Sophomore Roosevelt Smart's career-high 26 points carried North Texas to an 86-74 win over Rogers State on Wednesday night at the Super Pit. Smart was on the receving end of a portion of the Mean Green's season-high 19 assists.
"One area of concern was that we were 349th in the country in assists on field goals made," North Texas head coach Grant McCasland said. We showed a lot of film to the guys and this shows they're learning."
Sophomore Ryan Woolridge posted a team-high nine assists, followed by sophomore A.J. Lawson with four and junior Jorden Duffy with three. Lawson and Woolridge joined Smart in double-digits with 17 and 11, respectively. Senior Shane Temara tallied 10 points.
Smart was 5-of-8 from the perimeter in the first half with a team-high 17 points. The Mean Green missed just two field goals in a five minute stretch early on to build a 16-9 lead on the Hillcats, led by five points each from Woolridge and Smart. Over the next four minutes, North Texas went on a 15-1 run behind a pair of Smart three-pointers that forced a RSU timeout.
"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive," Smart said. "Ryan, A.J. and Duffy did a great job of finding me early and it got me going."
Behind seven points from Saint Hilaire, the Hillcats trimmed the Mean Green's 18-point advantage in half at 35-26, but a Woolridge three increased the lead back over double-digits and North Texas cruised into the break with a 42-31 advantage. The Mean Green finished with 13 first-half assists on 17 made field goals.
"I don't care who you are or what level you are, if you can shoot the ball, you're going to cause people problems," McCasland said.
For the second straight game, it seemed cold second-half shooting would marr the Mean Green, going without a field goal for three and a half minutes as Rogers State closed the gap to five points with a 9-1 run. Lawson hit back-to-back layups to spark a stretch in which North Texas shot 4-of-5 from the field that opened the lead to 75-63.
"I knew we needed to speed them up, because they were playing us to pack the paint," Lawson said.
After missing five straight from beyond the arc, Smart rediscovered his touch with a dagger that increased the lead to 81-68 and gave him a new season-high at 26. Smart finished 8-for-15 from the field and 6-of-12 from long range. The Mean Green were coming off a tough game Monday in which they finished 4-of-22 from three-point as a team.
"Coach reminded us that we're going to make shots," Smart said. "We just have to keep playing hard and executing our plays and the shots will fall."
North Texas hits the road for Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. Friday.
- Wednesday marked the third 20-point game this season for Smart, and all have come at home.
- Woolridge had season-highs in assists (nine) and three-pointers (two).
- Coach McCasland put the same starting lineup out for the third-straight game.
- After shooting 4-of-22 from beyond the arc on Monday, North Texas finished Wednesday 10-for-24 from three-point.
- The Mean Green defense held Baron Smith Jr., the Hillcats' leading scorer, to just six points.