In a game billed as a defensive slugfest, North Texas blew the doors off Sam Houston State by hitting a season high 16 three-pointers. C-USA player of the year Tylor Perry set the tone, hitting a couple early, and Rubin Jones and everyone else contributed more. Jones made all five. Perry made six-of-nine. Jayden Martinez made two. Tyree Eady, Matt Stone, and Kai Huntsberry all made one. Eady was playing with his hand wrapped and Huntsberry was asked to do some more of the post play while Abou Ousmane had to attend to a family emergency in New York.
There was little drama in this game, as NT just simply hit everything while playing the usual tough defense against the WAC’s second place team. Sam Houston came into this one boasting the nation’s 4th best scoring defense. Qua Grant was held to 14 points on 5 of 13 shooting.
Perry had 23 on 6/9 from deep and added six assists with no turnovers.
Grant McCasland praised Sam Houston and noted their quality and also praised the students for showing up. Mac said “Early we were aggressive in attacking and shooting open threes. It really made the difference and opened the game up.” Against UAB in the league semifinal loss, NT came out flat and wasn’t aggressive. In this one, the squad simply shot well, but was looking for their shots. Perry was doing more catch-and-shoot instead of working the dribble. It made North Texas just a little bit more unpredictable.
Mac has previously praised this squad for being deeper, and more talented overall compared to his previous groups. The season has been about meshing the offensive potential with the defensive principles and toughness that has built the McCasland basketball program in Denton. With the sole exception of the loss to UAB, the Mean Green are finding a groove.
NT is 13-2 since Jan 21st. The squad has blown out Middle, Western (by thirty!), Alcorn State, and now Sam Houston at the Super Pit in the month of March. Add in the pseudo home games vs Tech and UAB and North Texas has blown out the last six of seven opponents.
This afternoon’s game was the final one in Denton for the 2022-2023 season, however. Up next is Oklahoma State, a team that finished seventh in the tough Big 12 — Kenpom’s number one league in the nation (C-USA is ranked 10th).
OSU had 18 Quad 1 games (6-12) and six Quad 2 (4-2). NT had nine Quad 1 and 2 combined. Link.
This is a tough game against a quality opponent. Both programs felt they had a solid case for the NCAA Tournament but are in the NIT instead. This is a quality test for both schools and it should be an incredible environment in Stillwater on Tuesday. The game will be on ESPN at 6pm.
The winner gets to keep playing in the tournament in Las Vegas.