Once upon a time, North Texas Basketball seemed like it was going to be really good. NT had a future NBA player and a handful of really good recruits. Then it all disappeared and for the last five years fans who remember that time have filled the ears of anyone who would listen of stories of that time.
Seeing this NT basketball team dominate a team so completely in a postseason game in front of a fun crowd is almost like a dream. It is something like an oasis. The Mean Green have thoroughly dominated three good, solid college basketball teams in this postseason tournament on the way to the CBI Final. I never knew I would care so deeply about a tournament that I so recently learned about but so it is.
This is the second straight game NT has won at home after scoring 90 points. Even though they scored fewer points than on Monday, the shooting was even better. NT shot a blistering 62% from the field and 70% from three on 14/20 shooting. CBI records are and were falling every time NT has stepped on the floor this March.
Roosevelt Smart was your leading scorer with a mere 20 in an efficient night — shooting 6/12 shooting. Jorden Duffy hit all five of his three balls on the way to 19 points. This of course after the two combined for 62 points on Monday. If they were asked to score more, they could have and likely would have. Instead the rest of the roster contributed buckets upon buckets. DJ Draper was left alone to hit 4/5 from three also.
This game was never in doubt as (for real this time) North Texas led from tip to buzzer. Duffy hit the first bucket of the game and NT never looked back. The Mean Green led by five at the 16:57 mark and never looked back. The Gamecocks never got closer than that the rest of the way. By halftime the lead was 28.
What do we make of this incredible series of games? NT has famously (now) gone to an all-guard lineup and the change has been dramatic. Spacing in basketball — pro and college — has always been the name of the game, and this era even more so. With Mike Miller shooting with his right hand now — that story is so crazy — NT has three shooters, a ball handler, and a big man that can finish on the court. Add to this combination an increase in tempo and a solid, active defense, and the result is a team that cannot be stopped by the CBI field.
North Texas has a nice little break before the Monday CBI Final Game 1 (yes, this is a strange tournament). For a sneak peak at the possible competition watch Campbell at San Francisco tomorrow on ESPN3 at 9 CDT.
Much has been made of the fact that Nevada and Loyola Chicago the 2016 and 2015 champs, respectively, are facing off in this year’s Sweet 16. If this tournament is any indication of the progress we can expect North Texas to make next year, then Wren Baker will have an easy time selling season tickets.
Grant McCasland is two wins away from 20 on the season. This is really happening. GMG