After having maintained the lead for the majority of the game, the North Texas men’s basketball team (3-6) fell to the University of Oklahoma (7-1) 82-80 in the final seconds. The Mean Green had the lead going into the final minute of the game but the Sooners went on a 5-to-0 run to take the lead.
North Texas sent the Sooners to the free-throw line after redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson hit two free throws himself to bring the game within one. The Sooners went 1-for-2 on that trip and the Mean Green were left with the final shot and no timeouts. The ball ended with junior forward Thomas Bell as he shot and missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
“We had good moments from different players on our teams,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “But, there’s still no excuse. We should have won that game. We put ourselves in a position to win this game, but there wasn’t enough defensive grit.”
Oklahoma had two players score over 20 points in senior forward Kristian Doolittle and redshirt junior guard Austin Reaves. With 14 seconds left in the game, Doolittle hit a pivotal 3-pointer to give the Sooners the lead. The senior forward was responsible for scoring five of the last six points.
Both teams shot very efficiently from the field all night but the Sooners had the advantage. The Sooners shot 50 percent from the field (38 percent from three) while North Texas shot 49 percent from the field (31 percent from three).
“Our ball pressure faltered,” McCasland said. “We didn’t have good enough pressure and it caused us to make adjustments in the second half, but we still couldn’t take them out of the isolation game.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson led the Mean Green in scoring with 21 points (8-for-17) along with going 3-for-9 from beyond the arc. Gibson got North Texas’ going early in the game scoring 16 of his 21 in the first half (7-for-11).
North Texas jumped out in front to start the game and shot 52 percent from the field to give themselves a 41-36 lead to conclude the first half. The Sooners responded in the second half, where both teams went back-and-forth down to the final buzzer.
Junior guards Javion Hamlet and James Reese finished scoring the game with double-digit point total after scoring 10 and 13 points, respectively.
“It was a big one for us,” redshirt senior guard DJ Draper said. “It was really high emotions. It was an opportunity to play a big school where people want to come to see us on our home floor.”
Draper scored nine points and shot 3-for-4 from the 3-point line in 22 minutes. He currently averages 5.9 points per game off the bench for the Mean Green in 18.8 minutes per contest.
“We did some good things tonight,” Reese said. “We just have to dig a little deeper and get better. We can’t give a team 82 points, but there are some things to take away from tonight’s contest. It comes down to who can make the most stops and who scored the ball more. We’re going to figure it out.”
UP NEXT: North Texas will move on to take on Little Rock (5-4) on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Super Pit.
Featured Image: Redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson dribbles past an Oklahoma defender during the Mean Green’s game on Dec. 5, 2019. Image by Zach Thomas