Denton, TX – North Texas hosted the Monarchs of Old Dominion Saturday in Conference USA action. The Mean Green came into the game with their best seven-game start in conference since its 2019-20 campaign that ended with them winning the Conference USA regular-season title. The Monarchs came into the contest hoping to finish their Texas swing with their third conference win. But North Texas would show how mean they are by having another dominant performance at home, making Old Dominions trip to the Lone Star State unpleasant. The Mean Green would come out hot, starting the game with a 9–0 run and shoot 75 percent from the field in the first half. This would lead to North Texas defeating Old Dominion 69-56 behind the strong leadership of senior forward Thomas Bell (15 points) supported by sophomores guard Rubin Jones (16) and forward Abou Ousmane (12).
It was clear from the start that North Texas was up to the physical challenge as they did a great job on the defensive boards limiting Old Dominion to one shot per possession and 37.5 percent shooting in the first half. The Mean Green would play a slow tempo, share the ball and make good basketball decisions that led to simple open shots. North Texas would go on an 11-4 run by the first media timeout and gain a 28-10 lead, hitting 12 of their first 15 shots. It would lead to North Texas shooting an amazing 15-for-20 from the field and 6-for-9 from beyond the arc (66.67%) in the half. They were led behind the play of sophomores Jones (8 points on 3-for-3 first-half shooting) and Ousman (8 points and four rebounds) helping the Mean Green to head into halftime with a comfortable 40-21 lead.
The second half would begin with the Monarchs finding some rhythm and flow by starting the half with a 10-2 run reducing North Texas’s lead to 11. The Monarchs would continue and cut the lead to as low as seven points behind the play of Jaylen Hunter and Austin Trice. The 6-0 sophomore guard Hunter would score a game and career-high 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field and 1-2 from beyond the arc. Hunter would use his speed and quickness to attack the rim, hitting floaters and knocking down mid-range pull-up jumpers on multiple possessions. He played with great energy and confidence. That energy and enthusiasm would also spread to fellow teammate, 6-7 senior forward Trice, who would add 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting and eight rebounds. Unfortunately, Trice, who played physical all night, using his big body and soft touch, would end up in foul trouble and foul out late in the second half.
North Texas would fend off the Monarchs attempt at a comeback and go on a quick 6-0 run to gain back a 13-point lead. The undersized 6-6 forward, Bell was solid throughout the game and would end the night with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and add five assists. Bell would use a Barkley style of play, backing down and dribbling by bigger and stronger defenders to be the constant the Mean Green needed.
Jones would lead the Mean Green in scoring with 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc while knocking down 5-for-6 free throws. The 6-5 guard would use his size to knock down shots over smaller guards, use strong drives that would get him to the free-throw line, and he played solid defense. The 6-10 Ousman would finish with 12 points on strong low post play and put backs and added three blocks.
Junior guard Tylor Perry (5 points) would go down with an injury late in the first half after scrambling for a loose ball and having a player fall on his left leg. He would walk off the court and later return to the bench on his own.
North Texas (13-4, 6-1 C-USA) will go on the road to take on Southern Miss (6-12, 1-4 C-USA) on Thursday, January. 27 at 7:00 p.m. Old Dominion will next play Charlotte.