North Texas 78 South Alabama 73

I don’ t know why I feel like I have a personal rivalry with USA. I found myself looking forward to watching this game as I left the parking lot this evening. I was about to tweet something when I asked myself, “why?”

The answer? Dunno. That still escapes me. I only saw the first half against USA last season in Denton. I had an indoor soccer game to play. I saw UTSA play the Jaguars here in San Antonio this year. They won in overtime. It wasn’t that.

I have yet to figure it out. Maybe it is the name combined with the large amounts of alcohol I consumed in college.

Whatever the reason, I found myself watching on a tiny screen that cost me $5.95 for the privilege.

tiny screen

It was well-damn-worth it. Tony Mitchell exploded in the second half the way you and I always hope he will. He finished with 34 points and 16 rebounds. Augustine Rubit — the Sun Belt’s leading scorer coming in to the game– finished with only two in 11 minutes after leaving due to injury.

There can be only one  … star basketball player on my tiny screen, apparently. So it goes. It is a zero-sum game and this time we were the lucky ones. It is awesome having the guy that can fly above 6-9 dudes and punch it. It reminds me of playing NBA 2K9 (I buy the cheap ones three years out of date for $7 to play once or twice) and abusing my opponent with LeBron or Kobe. It feels like cheating sometimes –for only a brief moment — and I almost feel bad for the other guy.

As much as I loved having Tristan Thompson and Josh White in Green and White (and black) when they scored it never seems like the other team was really afraid or felt helpless. With Tony, you can see the other guys look at their coaches with a look of hopelessness. “What? I can’t jump that high, coach.”

What could they do? He stepped out and cashed three treys. He hopped up and punched a couple lobs and rebounds. He used his length to snag sixteen boards and tip a few others to his teammates. He slid into passing lanes and started breaks. He found guys in transition.

He did damn near everything a guy can do to win the game by himself. We know how it looks without a transcendent talent to draw the double team away from Chris Jones. We know how it is without a guy inside to battle and scare away easy buckets.

It ain’t pretty.

I won’t pretend to break down what this means going forward for the team and the chances for another 20-win season. Go ahead and assume that we don’t have as good a chance as we will next season. Just remember these two things:

1. Last season the 20-win streak looked bleak for a good stretch there when we lost 8 of 12 from January 5th to February 24th. That was with experienced guys.

2. We have Tony Mitchell.

 

Go Mean Green.