Man, what a difference 20 days can make.
The last time I had the misfortune of venturing to San Antonio to see the Mean Green compete, we were all treated to an absolute drubbing at the hands of the football Roadrunners in the Conference USA Championship.
About 18 miles away from the Alamodome, in a much smaller and less nice sporting venue, the Mean Green were set to take on the Roadrunners again, opening up their Conference USA slate for the 2022-2023 basketball season.
It was cold that night when we all sat in the Alamodome, but good lord, it was not this cold. I was nearly blown over walking from the parking lot to the Convocation Center.
What I was found when I arrived was nothing like what I expected. You basically walk right onto the court from the front doors. It is so completely different from the Super Pit, you really have to experience it to believe it.
But this night was not about the surrounding arena. It was all about what happened on the court. Or more specifically, what one Man did to those rival Roadrunners.
Abou Ousmane, the 6′ 10″ junior forward, was a man possessed Thursday night. He was the focal point of the entire Mean Green offense, abusing UTSA’s Jacob Germany in the post all night long.
Ousmane’s 37 points led all scorers in the game, but it was also the most points he has scored in a single game in his Mean Green career, easily eclipsing his 23 points against Southern Nazarene early this season.
“I was most impressed by his patience,” UNT head coach Grant McCasland said. “I think the simplicity of throwing it inside into Abou was the key to our offense.”
I usually go into a UNT game looking to see what spectacular things Tylor Perry will pull off, but it was Perry who was relying on Ousmane to create offense at times, receiving a spectacular bounce pass on back cut from Ousmane for an easy layup to put the good guys up 19 with about four minutes left in the game.
Things were getting kind of scary early in the second half though.
The Roadrunners were able to cut the lead to one point, and the San Antonio faithful were starting to really get into it.
But the Mean Green buckled down, and ripped off a 19-2 stretch that was equal parts impressive and equal parts inspiring for what the rest of this season could hold.
Expectations should be tempered however, when one remembers that the Roadrunners are a very young team, who sported a 6-5 record coming into this season.
But, after the 24 point win, Coach McCasland talked about how deep the C-USA really is this year.
“I honestly don’t think there are any bad teams in our league,” Coach McCasland said. “We got our hands full in regards to playing.”
The victory Thursday pushed UNT to second in the C-USA, right behind FAU, and sets up a massive showdown on December 29th with the Owls in Denton.
Coach McCasland thinks very highly of the Owls, and seemed ready for the matchup.
“They returned the most players, with the most experience, of anybody in our league, and there is continuity in their program.”