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Dominant play pushes men’s basketball toward win against UMass

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Article Originally Published by Tyler Luker on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Tyler Luker on North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball’s strong defense helped them cruise their way to a 66-57 win over the University of Massachusetts Saturday afternoon in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Classic.

UMass has been a premier three-point shooting team, with their season average at 41.2 percent with 11.5 threes made per game. The Mean Green held them to just six three-pointers on 37.5 percent shooting from behind the arc.

“We knew that being as prolific of a three-point shooting team as they were, they were never out of the game,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “I am proud of the way we guarded the three-point line, especially in the second half.”

North Texas fell behind early in the first half, but turned the tide after five minutes and never looked back. 

“We cannot ever get on our heels offensively or defensively,” McCasland said. “I thought we lost some aggressiveness offensively, but we never lost our composure defensively, which was the difference in the game.”

At the end of the first half, North Texas held a 39-27 lead with sophomore Abou Ousmane leading the scoring with 10 points on six shots. He finished the game with 13 points and three rebounds.

The Mean Green’s presence in the paint was paramount, as they scored 32 points inside at a 57.1 percentage. Their aggressiveness inside the lane landed them at the charity stripe 11 times, where they hit all but one free throw.

“Their biggest dude was probably 6 foot 10 inches, and they could not guard us down there,” Ousmane said. “We were able to go and take advantage.”

The Minutemen began to claw their way back in the second half, coming within seven points of the Mean Green lead but could never fully breakthrough. UMass’s three-point shooting fell, going 1-6 from deep.

Sophomore Rubin Jones was named MVP of the game, knocking down three three-pointers and scoring 13 points. He also tallied three rebounds and played a team-high 35 minutes. Jones credited the win to controlling the game’s tempo and not letting UMass play their fast-paced game.

“They play the fastest in the country, but we wanted to keep it at our pace,” Jones said. “If you keep the game at half-court, we are going to win.”

Featured Image: Sophomore guard Rubin Jones attempts to dribble past a Buffalo defender on Nov. 15, 2021. Photo by Zachary Thomas

Source: North Texas Daily

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