Second Half Rally Falls Short For Mean Green At SIU

Dec. 12, 2015

Junior J-Mychal Reese set a new career high with 25 points at Southern Illinois (photo by Rick Yeatts). 

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -  The North Texas men's basketball team scored 48 second half points but came up short on the road at Southern Illinois, 74-66, Saturday night inside the SIU arena.

Free throw shooting (7-for-19) and turnovers (21) proved to be the difference in a rare home and home series against Southern Illinois. North Texas drops to 2-7 on the season and SIU improves to 9-2 with the victory.

"We came out and really competed in the second half but turnovers and free throw shooting has been hurting us," head coach Tony Benford said. "I give a lot of credit to Southern Illinois and they are going to have a great season."

Junior J-Mychal Reese set a new career high with 25 points, including 21 in the second half off 8-of-9 shooting. Reese also had three steals, three assists, three rebounds and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the free throw line.

"I thought J-Mychal (Reese) played well," added Benford. "He played at a high level tonight and we need to get other guys playing well with him."

The Mean Green finished the game shooting 45.8 percent off 27-of-59 from the field. North Texas got back into the game thanks to a blistering second half shooting performance at 55.9 percent (19-of-34).

NT led the way with 36 points in the paint and pulled down 43 rebounds, including 21 on the offensive end. Sophomore Jeremy Combs grabbed 14 boards falling just one shy of tying his career high of 15. Combs scored eight points off 3-of-7 from the field and had two blocks.

Freshman Allante Holston was a spark off the bench scoring 12 points off 5-of-6 shooting. Holston played 25 minutes off the bench and scored nine of his 12 points in the second half.

In a sloppy first half, North Texas jumped out to a 6-2 lead off layup by Rickey Brice Jr. with 16:00 minutes left in the half. SIU would take an 11-8 lead off a 9-2 run capped by a layup from Sean O'Brien.

Mean Green would cut the lead to 13-12 off a made free throw by Holston with 8:40 left in the first half. The Salukis would open up a 10 point lead thanks to a couple of made three pointers by Mike Rodriguez and Tyler Smithpeters to make the score 24-14.

SIU would take a 32-18 lead into halftime after North Texas was 1-for-10 from the free throw line at intermission.

In the second half, the Salukis would open up a 20 point lead at 38-18 with 17:48 remaining when North Texas made a run. The Mean Green would cut the lead to seven at 44-37 thanks to a 19-6 run capped by a layup and foul shot by Combs.

With 7:50 left in the contest, North Texas would creep to within five points off a three pointer by freshman Ja'Michael Brown at 48-43. SIU would answer with back-to-back three pointers by senior Anthony Beane to make the score 54-43.

Reese would score the final nine North Texas points but couldn't get any closer than eight points as Southern Illinois came away with a 74-66 victory.

"We have a young group and we need to continue to get better every game," said Benford. "I think by the time conference play comes we will be able to make some strides."

What's Next
North Texas will have a quick turnaround to host Nicholls State Monday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. inside the Super Pit.

Mean Green Quick Hits
-First career start for Rickey Brice Jr.
-Second career start for Ja'Michael Brown
-Junior J-Mychal Reese set a new career high with 25 points and scored in double figures for the eighth time this season
-Freshman Allante Holston scored in double figures for the second time this season
-Sophomore Jeremy Combs grabbed 14 rebounds, one off his career high of 15 rebounds against Rice (3/11/15)
-Outscored SIU in the second half, 48-to-42 



North Texas Mean Green