Brice Sparks North Texas To 73-45 Victory

Nov. 30, 2016

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DENTON -- Rickey Brice, Jr., had his first double-double of the season and career bests in points and shot blocks to lead North Texas past Texas College Wednesday afternoon at the Super Pit, 73-45.

The Mean Green have won three straight and, at 4-3, are over .500 after seven games for the first time since 2014-15.

North Texas, however, struggled in the first half to put away Texas College, an NAIA school that came into the day with a 1-5 record and was allowing an average of 81.8 points per game.

But the 7-1 sophomore center Brice towered over the Steers, whose tallest player was 6-7. Brice recorded career-highs in points with 15 and blocks with five, and added a season-best 10 rebounds.

"We came out a little sluggish," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "But I thought Rickey played well. He was a presence, and he should have been since he was the biggest guy in the building."

The Mean Green also got their 3-point shooters untracked in the second half. Deckie Johnson finished with a game-high 19 points, Derail Green had nine and Ja'Michael Brown had eight.

North Texas took the lead in the opening minute and quickly built a six-point lead, but could not pull away due to amazing confluence of statistics.

Despite Texas College's 20.9-percent first-half shooting, the Steers stayed close due to the Mean Green's 13 first-half turnovers and Texas College's surprising rebounding advantage over the taller North Texas. The Steers pulled down 16 offensive rebounds in the first half -- six better than their single-game high this year.

"We've got to play hard against everybody," Benford said. "We're not good enough to take anybody for granted."

Texas College briefly went ahead at 16-15 with 8:17 to play in the first half, but North Texas responded with 3-point field goals from Johnson and Green, who each had nine points in the first half. Brice added eight points and five rebounds before halftime to help stake North Texas to as much as a 10-point lead before settling on a 31-23 edge at intermission.

That momentum from the end of the first half carried over to the second. North Texas opened a 15-point lead at 44-29, and the advantage bulged to 59-35 with 8:20 to play, and topped out at 31 points.

Quick Hits

• The Mean Green's three-game win streak is their longest since winning five straight in the 2014-15 season.

• Junior forward Shane Temara scored 13 points in the second half and finished with 14.

• Senior J-Mychal Reese did not start Wednesday because he had to take an exam at the start of the game and did not join the team until halftime.

• This was the third team North Texas has played this year that came in with a record of 1-5.

• Wednesday's game was the annual Denton ISD Day, when bus-loads of DISD students - and this year students from Gainesville - watch a Mean Green game. North Texas is 8-0 in DISD Day games.

What's Next

North Texas will host cross-Metroplex rival UT-Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Super Pit. Game time is 2 p.m.



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