Mean Green basketball was 8-0 coming into this game and had a big regionally televised game against Oklahoma on the road tonight. NT had every reason to figure it could compete reasonably well in this one.
Last year, NT went to Norman and only lost by ten to a Trae Young-led Sooner squad. It could be argued that if were not for the future-NBA first round pick NT would have triumphed then.
Tonight, NT did not play nearly as well. NT shot 29% in the first half … and the second. Meanwhile, Oklahoma figured out how to shoot in the second half.
NT was down just two at the end of the first half thanks to the shooting of Roosevelt Smart — he had 11 in the first — and then sort of fell apart in the final seven minutes.
Why Did They Lose?
Oklahoma is better than the teams North Texas beat up on to this point. There is a little debate among the Mean Green fans about this — we knew they had not played anyone of note just yet but there is some value in doing this. It allows you to get a nice run out and work on some things with a little bit of a safety net.
Whatever the situation, the Sooners were more athletic, and more skilled than the previous competition and it sure seemed like that caused some of the early turnovers. North Texas had to go to their second and third options on offense and did not make those decisions quickly enough.
As they settled into things (both teams) stopped turning the ball over a ton, and NT started playing NT basketball, hitting shots, getting to the rim and pushing the pace.
In the second half, the Mean Green fell into the same traps, but couldn’t defend Oklahoma as well. Zach Simmons dunked and put NT up by two briefly (for :13) before Oklahoma went on a run.
What Does It Mean?
In the long run? Not much. This is mostly a learning experience. NT could have used the hype of a win in Norman but the path to any kind of notoriety for this team was always going to come via the CUSA Tournament and a possible NCAA bid through that path.
The non-conference schedule is weak, but again the CUSA Bonus Play rounds will attempt to fix that if NT can win early in league play.
Who Played Well?
Roosevelt Smart came back from injury and put in 13, but did not shoot well overall. He is working his way back into the groove. Zach Simmons did not score as well, but rebounded well. Ryan Woolridge played really well in certain aspects, but was a little loose with the ball as he tried to make things happen late. He finished with 17.
Indiana State on the road and UT Arlington at the Super Pit.