Balanced Attack Leads Mean Green Over Niagara 80-71
Senior J-Mychal Reese Scored A Season High 20 Points
DENTON - The North Texas men's basketball team held off a late-game surge by the visiting Niagara Purple Eagles, winning 80-71 on Friday night at The Super Pit. Senior J-Mychal Reese led North Texas with 20 points, while Deckie Johnson and A.J. Lawson contributed 15 apiece.
Mean Green (2-3) set season highs in free throws made (26) and steals (seven). Reese finished the game a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line.
"We have to play with a passion every night and I thought we did that on both ends," head coach Tony Benford said. "We held them to 29 percent in the first half. Reese came out aggressive and was a great leader for us tonight."
North Texas won the rebounding battle 39-to-34 and scored 21 points off 15 Niagara turnovers. Graduate student Derail Green grabbed a season-high eight rebounds and junior Shane Temara tied his career high with eight.
Both teams started the game slow after only six points were scored in a five minute span. North Texas was able to take a one-point halftime lead thanks to Reese and Rickey Brice Jr.
Reese led the Mean Green with ten points in the opening frame and Brice Jr.'s six defensive rebounds provided a spark for the home team. The sophomore center went 3-for-4 at the free throw line and notched one block and two steals, as well.
Matt Scott carried the Purple Eagles with 11 first-half points, and Kahlil Dukes was a perfect 4-four-4 from the free throw line to help keep Niagara within one point at the break.
In the second half, Niagara made an early run to take a 36-32 lead off a three-pointer from Scott. North Texas responded with a 15-3 run to make the score 47-39 at the 11:04 mark. Johnson sparked the rally with five straight points.
The Mean Green held their largest lead of the game at 67-51 with 3:57 remaining in the contest. Dukes and Scott, however, weren't going to let Niagara go down without a fight. The pair scored 23 points a piece and led a late-game surge, making it a seven point game with one minute to play.
A series of Niagara fouls late in the game gave North Texas the opportunity to put the game out of reach and the Mean Green capitalized by making 9-of-13 down the stretch.
"We are going to continue to get better throughout the season," Benford said. "We changed our offense up to create some space. We have to continue to build on this and I am really proud of our effort tonight."
The Mean Green host Hartford on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. at The Super Pit.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
Derail Green and Deckie Johnson both made their fifth consecutive starts.
Green's eight rebounds was a season high.
Rickey Brice Jr. made his second straight start.
J-Mychal Reese made his fourth straight start and had a season-high 20 points.
North Texas swiped a season-high seven steals.
Mean Green made a season-high 26 free throws