After losing Thursday nights thriller against Oklahoma, the North Texas men’s basketball team (4-6) won their fourth game of the season by a score of 76-53 against Little Rock (5-5) with the help of an unprecedented performance from beyond the arc.
The Mean Green sank 19 total 3-pointers, tying the program record for most made 3-pointers in a game. North Texas also dished out 23 assists, breaking the program record for the most assists in a game (15) with junior guard Javion Hamlet leading the way with eight assists on the night.
The accolades didn’t stop there as senior guard Roosevelt Smart scored a season-high three 3-pointers with his final shot placing him in third place all-time for most made 3-pointers in program history (189). The first-year junior guard James Reese solidified a new career in made 3-pointers (4), finishing the night with 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting.
“We’re just connecting right now that’s all I can say,” Gibson said. “[head coach Grant McCasland] has been over-emphasizing that in practice. Just moving the ball, finding the open man, and making the right reads. It’s just starting to click now and we just got to collect these wins.”
After Little Rock scored the opening points and the score was 3-2, they never led again as North Texas led the Trojans for the remainder of the game. It all started with the Player of the Game in redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson, who made seven 3-pointers (7-for-10) which ties his career-high for the most made threes in a game. He established an early 13-5 lead after making two consecutive 3-pointers in the first four minutes of play. North Texas eventually sank six straight 3-pointers which led to them making nine out of their first 10 shots from deep midway through the first half.
North Texas ended the first half with a 45-25 lead over the Trojans, shooting 13-for-18 from deep and 16-for-28 from the field overall. They continued their success on offense in the second half but the scoring cooled off a bit after scoring 31 points. Gibson and Reese ended the game as only two players finished with double-digit point totals with 23 and 12, respectively. In the post-game press conference, McCasland didn’t waste any time with bringing up their work ethic and their passion to be in the gym late after hours.
“Nobody’s in the gym more than [Gibson] or Reese, no one, no one in the country,” McCasland said. “I’d be shocked if you can find somebody that sounds more time in the gym.”
Before Saturday nights game against Little Rock, Reese had the cops called on him because of the lights being on in the gym late at night. McCasland eluded to this incident not being the first of its kind.
“I mean we made this kind of a joke but we’ve had the police called on us because our guys are in the gym too much at night,” McCasland said. “It’s the truth, those are the calls you want. We get permission for them to do it and they can do it but this group works too hard for them to keep missing.”
After losing to Oklahoma in the way that they did with the missed potential game winning shot, Reese agreed that there was some irony to this game after tonight’s win featuring their uncanny performance from deep.
“Yeah, that’s just basketball it’s just how basketball is,” Reese said. “But as I said, you know, everybody was in the gym the next day after hours putting in the work—wanting to make sure we don’t miss the next one that we take. It was in our favor tonight.”
UP NEXT: North Texas travels to Ohio to take on No. 19 Dayton. This will be their third game against a nationally ranked team, they’re currently 0-2 against ranked opponents with losses to then-No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth and (then-No. 15) No. 25 Utah State.
Featured Image: Redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson dribbles past a Little Rock defender during the Mean Green’s game on Dec. 8, 2019. Image by Ryan Cantrell