The Mean Green took care of business tonight. It wasn’t pretty, and Alcorn was compromised (down three team members for injury or coach’s decision) but a win is a win. NT was a -17.5 point favorite for a while, and won by 16. The drama was mostly if NT would cover the spread, and it was a bad-beat that ended the game.
There was a lot to like about North Texas, if you could step back from the overly obsessive analysis. Would we have loved for the Mean Green to win by 30? Of course. A thing to consider is that Alcorn St, by sitting four guys (one through injury, and three through coach’s decision) helped focus a team that plays hard. There was no room to overthink for the Braves. The Mean Green looked hesitant at times, like they were thinking about the right play.
NT was out-rebounded at the half, something that is concerning in light of the post-game comments by McCasland about the UAB game and their rebounding. Alcorn State deserves a lot of credit for how hard they play. Down four guys, they knew that the risk of tiring would be there. They competed, fought for everything, and stayed right with North Texas for a good portion of the game.
Helped by a flagrant-1 foul early, NT used a 10-0 run to push the lead to 13. They used a couple of shorter runs to push it out to as many as 18.
Tylor Perry had 21 points and Kai Huntsberry 10. Abou Ousmane looked like he was going to have a big night against the smallish Braves lineup but instead managed just four early points. Jayden Martinez had a nice first half sequence and added four himself. In the end NT’s C-USA player of the year was too much, and Alcorn ran out of guys.
Next up: The winner of Santa Clara and Sam Houston in Denton (probably) on Sunday. As of this writing, they are tied with 7:36 left. The game is in Santa Clara even though Sam Houston is the higher seed. Because of Spring Break in Texas, SHSU said they didn’t have enough student staffers to run the operation and had to decline. Sam Houston won the WAC regular season and had 25 wins on the year. Santa Clara finished third in the Gonzaga/St Mary’s WCC league and finished with 23 wins, including a win over NIT 2nd round participant Eastern Washington.