After trading the lead 17 times, the North Texas men’s basketball team (2-5) fell to nationally ranked No. 15 Utah State (7-0) by a score of 68-59 in the final game of the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic.
The Mean Green had the game tied with less than two minutes remaining, however, the Aggies would end the final 3:55 of the game on an 11-to-0 run which would eventually seal the win and would continue their winless start to the season.
“Truth be told, it’s disappointing,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “It’s not good enough and there’s no justification for it, we should’ve won the game. We fought well enough for about 35 minutes, but we didn’t finish it.”
While North Texas won the battle of points in the paint with a 30-24 advantage the Aggies scored 34 points off the bench compared to the Mean Green’s nine.
“I made some bad play calls late,” McCasland said. “I didn’t put us in the right positions to make plays but give the [Aggies] credit, because they decided they were going to win the ball game the tough way.”
The Mean Green lost a majority chance of winning because of the 34 opportunities the Aggies had at the free-throw line compared to North Texas’ seven attempts.
“Give them credit,” McCasland said. “You could tell they were the more physical team.”
Sophomore redshirt guard Umoja Gibson led North Texas in scoring once again and scored at least 19 points for the third consecutive game on 8-for-18 shooting from the field and 3-for-10 shooting from deep.
“Gibson was heroic at times,” McCasland said. “He got tired there at the end though. I need to find a couple more guys that can get out there and contribute and I think it’s hard. We need to solidify who those guys are.”
Graduate student Deng Geu looks to be solidifying his role as he also had himself a productive performance scoring 18 points (7-for-11) and grabbing seven boards and two steals. Geu has played a primary role so far through his first season with the Mean Green.
“[Geu] was extremely tough when we needed him to be,” McCasland said. “I thought he had some big rebounds. And his ability to finish some of those shots [in the paint] means to me he knows what we want [to look like].”
While North Texas has struggled to start the season with a 2-5 record, they hope to improve going further. In this game, turning the ball over was a factor and it has plagued their offense all season. The Mean Green and the Aggies both turned the ball over 12 times in the game.
“We need to end games with the same physicality we play with the whole game,” McCasland said. “We’ve got some big games coming up to end this semester, but it’ll be good for us to get back home and get some practice in and challenge these guys to work on areas where we struggled.”
UP NEXT: North Texas will return to play on Monday when they travel, not very far, to Arlington to take on The University of Texas-Arlington.
Featured Image: Graduate student forward Deng Geu performs a post move against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 19, 2019. Image by Zach Thomas