Tylor Perry was scoreless for 40 minutes and 14 seconds of this game vs Texas State. North Texas was down 54-47 at home with under a minute remaining. Tylor Perry danced right, and hit a straightaway three. Those were his first points of the night. North Texas was down four.
Texas State broke the NT press, Nighael Ceaser got a dunk. Tylor Perry hit another three, this time drawing a foul. These were his 4th, 5th, and 6th points of the night. He of course missed his free throw, which was just emblematic of the night to that point but fortune, also known as luck, was on the Green side. Saint Patrick’s Day is around the corner, so who knows.
Caleb Asberry stepped out after getting the rebound. NT got the ball to Thomas Bell for a layup, and NT was suddenly down just one point with 20 seconds to go.
After Ceaser split a couple of free throws, Perry got loose in the corner. He missed. Then Murray earned a jump ball and that meant NT had about 10s left. Perry put a right arm into Asberry, stepped back … and hit the front iron.
But wait! A foul.
Was it close? Was it questionable? Did the announcers feel like it was undeserved? Do I care? (I do not care).
He hit two-of-three to tie it. Texas State got a great look at a game-winner and missed. Overtime.1
NT played well to start, and got into a little bit of a weirdness where Texas State went on that run. NT was looking for offense, but got a little off. Jones tried that entry pass to Ousmane that went out of bounds. Ousmane missed a bunny or two. Perry was 0-3 for the longest time. The broadcast said they could hear Grant McCasland say “we aren’t going to win if you don’t shoot.”
The Bobcats are the Sun Belt regular season champions, and have experience and talent. They created chaos and found themselves with the ball in scrums and battles on the floor and got loose for buckets. Ousmane couldn’t play bully ball like he did vs Rice because they did not let him get comfortable. He got some big points when it mattered — to a lesser extent then Perry’s, sure — but early on he was missing and also in foul trouble.
Full credit to State, having a balanced scoring attack (four guys with at least 9 points), finding the mismatches and getting hustle points. They nearly pulled it off and it took every single one of Perry’s 8 points in the final 46 seconds to get NT into overtime.
I will take some luck, and some home cooking any day of the week. You make your own luck (by being aggressive and prepared) and you earn your home court (by being such a good team all year). NT got what they deserved even if … well they might night have deserved it.
In overtime, NT exerted a little more control even if they briefly trailed by one after a couple of minutes.
This was an ugly game, that saw some clutch buckets from Perry (what is new?). He struggled all game and there was a real decision to make about whether or not he was able to do the job. Texas State was targeting him, and having success. They got a lob on him on a back cut. They ran him through some screens.
NT came into this game off a season low 36-point outing vs Tech in the league tournament. They could not shoot from three when it mattered, and started this one seemingly ready to prove that was a fluke. Rubin Jones was aggressive, and finished with 15, including 3-6 from deep. It was Mardrez McBride, however, that stole the show. He put up 24 on 6-13 from distance and 8-18 overall.
That should have been enough, but Texas State hung around. They bothered Abou Ousmane, and limited Thomas Bell to just 5-9 for 10 points. He got into foul trouble (and so did Ousmane) but had a nice overall stat-stuffing game. Bell: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block 1 steal. He was +20 on the night, by far the most impactful guy.
What do you do with all of this information? Forget it. It’s March.
On to the next round.
- Rubin Jones was way more aggressive and as we said this week on the podcast, I would love for that dude to become the second-scorer NT needs. Someone is going to need to take some pressure off Perry. UAB had Ertel and Walker. NT could stand to rely on Jones and Perry.
- Mardrez McBride had a bounce-back game. He was shooting like Tournament Drez.
- The 7-man rotation was challenged in this one. Perry was limping for a bit, and that might have contributed to his lack of aggression. We need him looking for his shot.
- Speaking of, he might need one more move in his bag of tricks. I think teams have seen him enough this season to see that he likes to fake right, and pull back. Got to commit to the right-handed drive, I think, to keep them honest.
- Aaron Scott took a corner three and I do not hate that in his game. Do not need five of them, but one or two is fine.
- Ousmane has a ton of success going quickly to the rim, but I wonder if he could stand a little pump-fake now and again. I think teams are timing his shot and it bothers him.
They made that silly full-court bucket, right at half time. I feel like if you make that you should get a point even if it was after the buzzer. That would be a fun, weird rule.↩