Writing about basketball is tough if only because there isn’t much time to process a thought, communicate it, and wait for reaction before the next game-or-season-changing action begins.
Last night North Texas won a tough contest vs Florida Atlantic that required some big stops from the defense, a little luck, and some big free throws. In short, it was a college basketball game.
156: Big Hoops Weekend — The podcast
I do not know that any big lessons can be learned from this game. We knew NT was a good team. We knew FAU was on the path to being a good team. We knew they were good at home and that given the circumstances it would be something like a challenge. The Mean Green are the target for everyone. Teams play, prepare, and compete at their best when playing this squad. For example, at halftime I switched over to UTEP vs La Tech and those broadcasters were hyping up the upcoming games (for both teams) vs NT. Add to that the fact that NT had only played the once over the previous weekend and that was a blowout win over Rice. It is hard to maintain your edge by yourself. Playing good teams brings your best out of you. That is the great part of competition.
Tylor Perry had a nice game for the most part, but turned the ball over three times uncharacteristically. For me, it looked like just a lack of rhythm. In a game based on rhythm, that is a problem. Let’s just get more games for the dude. Meanwhile, FAU’s main threat went 0-3 in go-ahead or game-tying scenarios.
This is a Mean Green-Supporting site, so I will tell you the good part about that. Sure, it was fortune, but also a little bit of residual defense carrying over. On the three-point miss, NT over-rotated, saw they left a roller to the hoop, and overcorrected — two went to the paint, leaving Forrest open. That was just about the most open Forrest had been all night and the shock of that realization no doubt contributed to the miss.
The same happened with his lefty scoop (miss), and the floater in the lane (short).
Meanwhile, NT hit enough free throws and made enough defensive effort plays (challenging for rebounds, digging for steals [Perry]) that they won. The big driver was the 18-point flip turning an 8-point first half deficit into a 10-point lead. There was good basketball (Ousmane went off!) and better defense from all involved.
This was not the most amazing display of basketballing from our favorite team but it was effective.
Next up is the big matchup with UAB. They rocked Rice at home, and are feeling good and ready to play NT. The good news is that even if NT loses this one, that it would take a sustained slip-up (like cartoon-style) for NT to fall out of the top-two bye spots. NT has the one conference loss, UAB three, and La Tech four. That means right now Tech would need to win out (including beating NT in Denton) and we would need to lose at least three more. That would mean its tie-breaker time. Also, consider NT would need to lose to one of USM, UTSA, or UTEP for that to happen. 1
It is all possible but not very likely.
Win on Saturday and that becomes even less likely. Remember, basketball is about improving your chances of scoring, winning, defending, and advancing. Securing the bye is a good way to reduce fatigue and give yourself a chance at continuing through the tournament. We saw that can mean you are matched up against a squad that already played an elimination game the night before. Which means you may be on your heels as they jump out with the hunger of having already fought for survival, while you were eating snacks.
There is no rest in this game. Not truly.
Anyway, get hyped for NT vs UAB at 3pm central time on Stadium.
For extra clarity, NT would need to lose to UAB, Tech, and one of the others. Most likely that is UTEP. But that only means a tiebreaker.↩