North Texas hosted Louisiana Tech in the first game of this year’s bonus play, the latest reason to hate the league leadership inappropriately. These teams are two of the best in the league not only in standings, but in play. NT came in leading the league in offensive efficiency, according to Kenpom, while Tech was third. Tech boasts a ferocious, athletic (as all good defenses are) defense that hurt NT late in the last meeting.
This game was the best this league had to offer: two incredible playmakers in Javion Hamlet and DaQuan Bracey making tough shots at the end of the game for their squads.
Bonus play will determine some seedings but North Texas was always going to have to win a tough game in the league tournament to get a championship. In the last game, NT overcame a relatively poor game to steal a win. In this one, they had an advantage but just came up short.
There are no moral victories that will satisfy the team, but this is one of those that should make you, the fan, feel god. Tech is a good team and has a really great defense. NT fought and nearly pulled out the win. Javion Hamlet was super clutch, and that big bucket to put NT ahead was the kind of play a championship-winning team will need.
One concern we had all season was the team’s inability to generate the right kind of shot late. Hamlet has been amazing getting into the lane and putting pressure on the defense. Here, his 25 points came on 7/13 shooting and 5/7 from the line.
He was only outshone by Bracey’s 26 and an off-hand floater.
One thing to note about Bonus Play is that Tech, FIU, WKU, and Charlotte are good teams and losing to any one of them is not a failure on the Mean Green’s part, but something that can and maybe will happen. That is the nature of this pod play set up.
NT hosted the 3rd place team, and now will travel to the 5th placed team (FIU) on Thursday. They will host Western (2nd) before traveling to Charlotte (4th) to end it. The 49ers upset Western on Saturday.