RECAP: North Texas Keeps Mississippi Valley State Winless with 87-74 Victory

Deckie Johnson connected on six 3-pointers on Thursday afternoon, leading to a game-high 26 points as North Texas kept Mississippi Valley State winless on the year with an 87-74 victory. (Source: Mean Green Sports(
Deckie Johnson connected on six 3-pointers on Thursday afternoon, leading to a game-high 26 points as North Texas kept Mississippi Valley State winless on the year with an 87-74 victory. (Source: Mean Green Sports)

Entering Thursday afternoon’s action, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils had struggled in 2015-16. They were 0-12 coming into the day, including 0-11 on the road. The Delta Devils have struggled away from home, losing by an average of 23.8 points per game this season.

They were looking to notch their first win of the season, and put together a strong performance on the road, when they paid a visit to Denton, TX to take on the North Texas Mean Green. The Mean Green have struggled at times this season, having 7 losses already on their resume. But, they were looking to use the home crowd as motivation to notch their second-straight victory.

When all was said and done, the Delta Devils did put up a valiant effort. They out-scored the Mean Green in the second half, but it was a lengthy run by North Texas in the first half that put the game out of reach.

North Texas added to the struggles of the Delta Devils, and pushed their own winning streak to 2 games with their 87-74 victory over Mississippi Valley State.

In the early going, Michael Matlock would help push the Delta Devils to an early 4-0 lead, scoring the first two baskets of the game for either team.

The teams would go back-and-forth for the next five minutes, and a jumper from Isaac Williams at the 14:19 mark brought Mississippi Valley State back to a tie with the Mean Green at 11-all.

That was the last time that the Delta Devils would be tied in the game. From there, the Mean Green started to pull away.

Deckie Johnson and Carrington Ward each hit a jumper to kick-start a 19-7 run for the Mean Green that gave the home team a 30-18 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the half. North Texas would continue their strong play as the opening half wound down, and a three-pointer from Johnson pushed the lead to 45-24 with 1:40 to play.

At the half, the Mean Green held a comfortable 45-28 lead over the Delta Devils.

Credit goes to Mississippi Valley State for continuing to fighting the second half against a team who was riding a wave of momentum after a strong first half. Their backs were against the wall, and they were playing from behind on the road, which is never easy to do.

A pair of free throws from Latrell Love brought the Delta Devils to within 13 points at the 14:20 mark of the second half, at 53-40, but that was as close as they would get over the course of the second half.

The Delta Devils never gave up, but they were never able to make a run on offense that would allow for them to make any kind of run at the Mean Green’s lead. Rickey Brice, Jr would stretch the lead for North Texas to 25 points on a three-pointer midway through the second half, putting the game to rest.

A lay-up from Damian Young brought Mississippi Valley State back to within 13 points in the closing seconds, but it was all for not.

Mississippi Valley State outscored North Texas in the second half, 46-42, but the Mean Green came away with the 87-74 victory.

On the night, Mississippi Valley State had three players reach double-figures, but only got a combined 8 points from their bench players. Guard Marcus Romain scored a team-high 19 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists.

Latrell Love added in 15 points and 5 rebounds of his own, while Damian Young added 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals in the loss.

North Texas also had several players put up good games, as four different players reached double-figures in the win. Deckie Johnson connected on six 3-pointers in the game, and scored a game-high 26 points to lead North Texas to the win.

Forward Jeremy Combs recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Ja’Michael Brown added 13 points of his own in the win.

The difference in the game was three-point shooting. Mississippi Valley State shot a dismal 1-of-14 (7.1%) from long distance, while the Mean Green were 9-of-25 (36%). That’s a difference of 16 points, and the Mean Green won by 13. Mississippi Valley State shot themselves in the foot with poor shooting from outside.

Looking Ahead

The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-13) are one of a few teams searching for their first win of the season. A strong second half performance wasn’t enough to undo a sub-par first half. They will go for their first win of the season on December 29th when they travel to take on the Hawaii Warriors.

After a seven-game losing streak of their own, the North Texas Mean Green (4-7) have now won back-to-back games for the second time this season. The road doesn’t get any easier, as they go on the road to take on the Creighton Bluejays on Monday night, looking to stretch their win streak to three games.

– T.B.