Johnson Turns In Back-To-Back Season-Best Performances
Mean Green Top Mississippi Valley For Two Game Win Streak
Deckie Johnson scored 26 points to spark North Texas to a two-game win streak. (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON - Three days after his career-high 17 points helped North Texas snap a seven-game losing streak, Deckie Johnson turned in another career-best performance to key an 87-74 victory over Mississippi Valley State and give the Mean Green a two-game winning streak.
Johnson, a 6-4 junior from Memphis by way of Angelina College, hit six three-pointers and poured in 26 points Monday afternoon at the Super Pit, and added four assists and a steal.
"Deckie played well, and we need him to score," North Texas coach Tony Benford said. "He's our best shooter, and he made shots tonight."
Jeremy Combs garnered his third double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, and Ja'Michael Brown and Allante Holston had their third double-figure scoring games of the year with 13 and 10, respectively.
The Mean Green (4-7 on the year) took charge of the game midway through the first half and were never seriously challenged the rest of the way, although Mississippi Valley (0-13) stayed close early on by working relentlessly to get inside. The Devils got into the paint successfully in the first eight minutes, and, with the help of four steals, were even at 11-11.
But from that point, North Texas took control. Johnson got things started with a three-pointer - one of four he drained in the first half - to give the Mean Green a lead they never relinquished. Fast-break scores from Carrington Ward and J-Mychal Reese pushed the lead to seven, and 7-0 freshman center Ricky Brice overpowered the Devils to the tune of four points, four rebounds and a block during a 17-5 run that put NT up a dozen.
Brice and Combs took advantage of their significant size advantages over the Devils, which in turn helped open up the sharp-shooters outside.
We wanted to play inside-outside," Benford said. "Ricky did a good job and extended the lead."
Johnson, who had 15 points in the first half Monday night against Nicholls, continued his hot streak with a 16-point first half Thursday, while Combs pulled down eight rebounds and North Texas rolled to a 21-point advantage.
Defensively, meanwhile, the Mean Green limited MVSU's access to the lane and slowly shut down the Devils' attack, and never allowed the lead to slip below double figures.
North Texas matched its season-high for three-point field goals with nine.
North Texas had 19 assists, its second-highest total of the year.
The Mean Green made 11 of 14 free throws in the second half, the team's best free-throw shooting half of the season.
Deckie Johnson's six three-pointers was just two off the school record.
Mississippi Valley has yet to play a home game this year, having been on the road for all 13 games this year.
North Texas faces Creighton on Dec. 21 in Omaha, Neb. Game time is 8 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.