Johnson's 27 Points Lead Men's Basketball To Victory
Mean Green Defeats Sam Houston, 69-64
Junior Deckie Johnson scored a career-high 27 points against Sam Houston (photo by Rick Yeatts).
DENTON, Texas - An eight-day layoff over the holidays did not cool off Deckie Johnson's hot shooting. He scored a career-high 27 points to lead the North Texas men's basketball team to a 69-64 victory against Sam Houston on Tuesday night at the Super Pit.
Johnson has scored in double figures for the last five games and surpassed his previous career high of 26 points scored on December 17 against Mississippi Valley State. The junior guard scored 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, hit three 3-pointers and made a career-high eight free throws.
"Deckie is playing with so much confidence," said North Texas head coach Tony Benford. "He's a good player. He is so efficient. You can't be better than those numbers tonight."
As a team, North Texas has won three of its last four games and capped its non-conference schedule with a win at home.
"I thought Coach Evans did a great job scouting," said Benford. "I thought we did a decent job on their shooters. We have a young basketball team. I am overall pleased with our effort tonight."
The game was a series of runs with each team scoring in streaks. It looked like North Texas was going to put the game away at the start of the second half when the Mean Green went on an 18-4 run with Ja'Michael Brown starting and ending the run with 3-pointers. Brown's 3-pointer at 9:59 put North Texas ahead by eight, 53-45.
The Mean Green, however, allowed the Bearkats back in the game when the home team went on a 10-0 scoring drought. Sam Houston took the lead, 58-56, with 5:52 left in the game.
Johnson hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give North Texas back the lead, 61-59, with 3:44 on the clock. Sam Houston's shooting went cold, J-Mychael Reese scored six of NT's eight final points, and Johnson sealed the win with a dunk with seconds left to play.
North Texas has struggled from the free-throw line this season, but the Mean Green's free-throw shooting tonight kept them in the game. NT went 14-for-20 in the second half from the charity stripe. Johnson and Reese each scored eight points from the line.
The first half was also a series of runs. The Mean Green hit six of its first seven shots to jump ahead, 15-6. A layup by Brown gave North Texas its largest lead of the half, 17-6. Sam Houston responded with a 17-4 run to take its first lead of the game, 23-21.
In the final three minutes of the first period, North Texas made 5-of-6 free throws to cut the Bearcats' lead to two points, 31-29. After a huge block by Combs and a steal by Reese, the point guard fed the ball to Johnson who dunked the ball in the final seconds to the game at 31.
"The chemistry is coming together," said Benford. "We have good character guys. I talked to our guys about playing to win. We are going to continue to get better. Our guys are going to get better every game."
North Texas opens conference play on the road with a game against UTSA on January 1st at 6 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hits
It was the 13th straight start for Deckie Johnson, Jeremy Combs and J-Mychal Reese
It was the seventh start for freshman Allante Holston. He previously came off the bench in last six games
Freshman Khalil Fuller earned his 10th start of the season
Junior Deckie Johnson has scored in double figures for the 10th this season
Sophomore Jeremy Combs grabbed 10 or more rebounds for the 10th time in his career
Freshman Ja'Michael Brown scored in double figures for the third straight game
Junior J-Mychal Reese has scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games