North Texas too Mean for Badgers
IN A grind of an affair, the North Texas Mean Green managed to outlast the Wisconsin Badgers in the Northern Invitation Tournament (NIT) semi-finals to advance closer to the title.
The clubs clashed at Orleans Arena on Wednesday morning in a low-scoring affair, and it was a contest that was not settled until the final play of the match.
The Mean Green were widely expected to take home the win given their dominance over the past 37 games (30 wins, seven losses). North Texas has been one of the most unstoppable sides in the NIT lately, but the Badgers were out to spoil the party.
Wisconsin started the match in ideal fashion, scoring the first five points of the match and establishing its intent early on. Suddenly, the Badgers had jumped out to a 10-3 lead and were pushing the pace as much as possible. Naturally, North Texas fought back into the game over the next few minutes, but the home side was not stopping.
A marvellous shooting display from Chucky Hepburn saw the Badgers explode out to a double-digit lead, as the Mean Green could not get any defensive cohesion going and ended up conceding 41 points in the first half to trail by 12 points at the change of play.
Despite producing a terrific offensive performance in the first half, the Badgers were held to just 14 points in the second half. Wisconsin could not produce a point for the final 9:07 of the match, completely stalling down its end of the court. Whether it was shooting the ball or driving inside to the rack, nothing was falling for the home sides.
On the other hand, the Mean Green were able to keep their offence flowing, and took the lead with two minutes to play to cap off a 10-0 run of dominance. Neither side scored to end the match, and North Texas advanced to the championship game courtesy of a 56-54 win.
Tylor Perry kept his side in the contest with an outstanding first half on his way to a game-high 16 points on 5/11 shooting. Also impressing were Ruben Jones and Kai Huntsberry, both of whom scored 12 points with the latter registering all in the second half. Hepburn finished the match with a team-high 15 points, many of which came during Wisconsin’s hot start to the game.
The Mean Green shot significantly better than their opponents (43.8 per cent to Wisconsin’s 37.5 per cent), and managed to pull down more rebounds too. In the end, the second half of the final period was the difference, as North Texas timed its run perfectly and now get a shot at the title as a result.