Back in the Sun Belt Championship Game: North Texas 76 Ark St 72

Yeah it is tournament time. That means the intensity is ratcheted up by 1000. That means when you see it is a one point game with 1:38 left, your heart begins racing, your palms are sweaty, and something something mom’s spaghetti.

Whereas last game’s back and forth affair was fought with the full complement of players, this one was missing Brandon Walton, Tony Mitchell, and Roger Franklin at various points.

That made it more amazing, though less dramatic. I can live with a little less drama in my final two minutes — how about you?

Tonight the hero was one Jacob Holmen, who exploded for three quick threes early in the first half and finished with 21 points on 8/11 shooting including 5/5 from three in a team-high 39 minutes.

He played with an aggressiveness that I have only seen in spurts from him. That isn’t a knock. Just an observation. His play tonight was a welcome, needed surprise. Like he said in the post-game interview, “Last night was [Alzee and Brandon] tonight was just my night [to step up].”

I will admit I was feeling less-than confident when Roger missed a long ill-advised jumper and subsequently fouled the ASU player who rebounded the ball. It left us without an inside scorer with 10-plus minutes and ASU with a lead.

The guys stepped up and handled their business for a while. When Tony and Roger came back, defense was played, big free throws were hit, and rebounds were gotten.

It was a thing of beauty.

So here we are now, in our rightful place.

It was a long, loss-filled road to this point. We had the talent but not the experience. I could see the talent getting us here, but I could also see more experienced teams outwitting us in tournament time. It all worked out, though. Our most maddening, heart-breaking losses came early and the listless games came before tournament time.

Now? Hey, well we have some experience to pair with that amazing talent. Right now, we aren’t missing Chris Jones and Jordan Williams’s scoring. We are missing their minutes.

These guys are young etc etc. They have legs that will recover etc. They played a lot of minutes. Jacob, Alzee, and Brandon played 39, 36, and 30 respectively. I’m only slightly concerned, though.

We can win this thing with this group. They have passed every test. Missing the star? It is okay. Need scoring from different places? Done. The only thing missing is a monster 35-point explosion by the Sun Belt Freshman of the year.

The stage is set for that. We moved on from internet streams, crappy or otherwise, to live, nationally-televised espn2. We have Western Kentucky, they of the NCAA tournament pedigree, as the opponent. It is only fitting.

 

Bring it.

 

Go Mean Green