After a successful night on offense, North Texas secured a win in their season opener against Oklahoma Christian with the final score being 79-40. Junior forward Thomas Bell came off the bench and scored a team-high 16 points (5-for-6) and tallied four rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes. The Mean Green finished the game shooting 61 percent from the field (30-for-49) and 50 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-18).
“[We put up a] tremendous effort, defensively,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “It’s what we wanted and it’s what we’ve been working on, turning them over was what we wanted. We did a decent job of doing it without fouling. The only disappointing part to this one was the little amount of impatience offensively and turning the ball over 20 times.”
It took some time for the Mean Green to get into a groove offensively in the first half up until the 12-minute mark. Bell hit two back-to-back shots from beyond the arc and two free throws to create cushion with a score of 20-10 with under 11 minutes left in the first half. North Texas ended the first half with a 19-point lead over Oklahoma Christian with the score being 37-18.
“I just tried to come in and make an impact off the bench and give energy to the team and just play hard and play good defense,” Bell said. “I’m just happy we got the win and that we’re playing good defense, I just wanted to make an impact and give what the team needed.”
The Mean Green had a good turnout in terms of the home crowd at the Super Pit. An energized home crowd was one of the things the men’s basketball team was hoping for in their season opener against the Eagles.
“It felt pretty good, it was a good turnout,” Bell said. “Being at this stage it was a pretty good crowd, they made an impact on the game. They were loud and the whole team felt it, we just vibed off their energy.”
Even though Bell had an efficient outing on offense in his Mean Green debut, he has his eyes set on their upcoming matchup against No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Virginia.
“It feels good to lead the team in scoring but you know we got big games coming up and we’ve got to take better care of the ball,” Bell said. “[Virginia Commonwealth] is a tough team but we’re going to hang our hat on defense and try to get stops and let our defense translate to offense. We’ve just got to play hard in that environment and I know all the guys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Featured Image: Junior forward Thomas Bell drives into the paint at the game against Oklahoma Christian on Nov. 5, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard