Stop me if you have heard this one before.
North Texas has a lead against FAU and then around the five-minute mark in the second period, starts to slip a bit, ending with a final minute where FAU goes ahead, and North Texas finds itself in the loss column. If you are thinking, “yes, I remember that one, that was the one where Abou Ousmane fouled out in Denton?” You are right and wrong. You see, it happened again. North Texas went to Boca Raton, Florida, and lost.
North Texas was bottled up from just under the 10-minute mark when they had 56 points and led by five. Around the 5-minute mark FAU went up 57-56, and NT trailed the rest of the way but only just. There were missed shots, and missed free throws and turnovers and scrambles, and ugly offense, and over-dribbling, and good-looks, and fouls and it still ended up with an NT loss.
Tylor Perry had 18 on 5/9 shooting, including 5/7 from three and 3/5 from the line. He added seven rebounds to the effort and a steal with two assists. Kai Huntsberry had 13 on 5/9 shooting, including 3/4 from three. Aaron Scott continued his hot streak and added 14 on 6/10 including 2/4 from three. Abou Ousmane had only 1 point but three assists. It is easy to find the lowest scorer and point the finger, but NT shot well (11/24 from two, and 12/21 from three — including 57% in the second half and 45% from three in the final frame) but lost the game. Instead of the last game’s narrative of good defense but poor offense dooming the Mean Green late, we had the opposite. Good offense but the defense allowing buckets — 66 points on 1.2 points per possession.
Johnell Davis had 16 on 6/9 shooting and had a hell of a second-half, finding his way into the paint with jerky dribbles. It was his catch-and-shoot game that killed NT, however. He got buckets in his 28 minutes. Giancarlo Rosado and Vlad Goldin combined for 23 and 12.
FAU controlled the paint, got to the line a ton (19 attempts to NT’s 8) and well, won the game down the stretch with more timely buckets and more stops. NT had a chance to win the game late. Perry knocked down a three to make it 59-60.
Giancarlo Rosado made a fadeaway jumper in the paint to extend it back to three.
Kai Huntsberry and Davis traded missed threes. Rubin Jones tried to attack the point with about a minute left, but Davis stole the ball. Bryan Greenlee was open on the right angle for a three that would have sealed the game.
Ousmane flew out and blocked the shot.
Aaron Scott came over to help on Greenlee who, after having the ball knocked back into his face, had tried to compose himself for the next basketball action. The pressure forced a bad pass, Tylor Perry was waiting to intercept. NT had a chance.
Perry was fouled, and went to the line with the team down three. He made the first. He missed the second. It was his second miss in the last six minutes — he missed at 5:10 with the score 56-59.
The caromed to the right, Perry sealed off Greenlee and after a review NT had a second chance down two points with 0:29 left.
Here we have the stuff of online discourse. NT needs a bucket and they proceed to run something called offense. The play ended with Perry crossing and re-crossing and crossing over again and getting just enough space on his defender — and the second help defender — for a look at the rim off the dribble. Now, for me, that is a rhythm shot. I asked Perry about dribbling after the WKU game, and we he mentioned a certain part of handling the ball before shooting is about catching the rhythm. It is why you have a free throw routine. It is what a pitcher does when he does his step.
Was Perry gettin the rhythmic shot he wanted? No, not. He didn’t quite follow through and did a little snake-arm thing. Is that a great shot? No, but given that it is a shot he practices, makes, and has made about 30 times for NT in two seasons I am good with it. I am less good with the offense before that shot. The criticism from fans was that it looked like the only option was always TP making a move. FAU seemingly knew this, but was happy to guard it with one person and a little support. It worked out in the end.
After the miss, Abou Ousmane was called for a foul and Vlad Goldin sealed the win with a couple of free throws.
What Does It Mean
NT has lost two straight to FAU, clinching the season series for the Owls. North Texas is two games behind the Owls in the race for the regular season title. That’s just about done, even if you think FAU is playing with fire in all of their close games on their win streak. The next available chance will be in the league tournament in Frisco in March.
NT still has work in Florida, driving about an hour south to Miami to play FIU on Monday. Following that it is Rice in Denton, and then UAB in Birmingham on the 21st.
FAU is a good team, play good defense, and have shooters and scorers surrounding a couple of big men that can rebound, defend, and score. It is no shame to lose to FAU, especially considering the two losses involved NT losing late leads. I mean that makes it hurt more, but there was a lot of good in this one.
The Good In This One
- Shooting lights-out
- Offense flowing easily at times early and through the early part of the 2nd half
- NT was up with 5-minutes left
- NT battled hard and through mistakes in a hostile enviornment
- NT was just one-shot away from leading this game with 8s left.
- Shooting from three by Huntsberry, Martinez, and Aaron Scott.
- Aaron Scott, in general