Eight wins in a row? No problem. The North Texas Mean Green methodically built a 17-point halftime lead and then cruised to a 69-45 victory at home Saturday over the UTSA Roadrunners.
Playing at the Super Pit in Denton, the Mean Green won their season-high eighth straight game and improved to 14-1 since Thanksgiving by holding UTSA to 29.2 percent shooting from the field, including 20 percent in the first half.
Center Abou Ousmane had 17 points and six rebounds for the Mean Green, who shot 54.8 percent in a slow-down offense. Guard Tylor Perry came off the bench to score 16 points, while Mardrez McBride added 12.
Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 15 for the Roadrunners, who lost their third straight game and their 12th out of 14 overall.
UTSA coach Steve Henson credited the Mean Green, a team that is playing for a second-straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
“They really manhandled us,” Henson told the team’s radio broadcast, “kept us from running anything … Kept us from passing. Kept us from screening. They just totally dictated with their defense.”
A series of blows to the UTSA roster in January have proven costly.
The Roadrunners lost forwards Cedrick Alley, Jr., and Aleu Aleu for the season. Alley, who is academically ineligible, was a dogged defender who could also score in a complementary role.
Aleu, sidelined with a knee injury, was a multi-talented player who could shoot from distance, drive and defend. Without them, the Roadrunners don’t seem capable of standing up to many teams in Conference USA, let alone the C-USA’s best.
UTSA is 1-5 without Aleu and 1-7 since Alley played his last game.
Ivy-Curry and Dhieu Deing also sat out games last month, the former because of Covid protocols and the latter because he briefly considered turning professional.
Since their return, both of the Roadrunners’ most talented perimeter players have had a tough time finding a groove.
Against North Texas, Ivy-Curry hit 5 of 17 shots from the field, making him 8 of 34 in two games on the current road trip. In the same two games, at Rice and North Texas, Deing is a combined 5 of 18. Deing was limited to 2 of 10 shooting and nine points against the Mean Green.
Center Jacob Germany, UTSA’s other primary threat, led UTSA with 20 points at Rice. He was held to six points and four rebounds against North Texas.
Essentially, the Mean Green kept the ball out of the 6-foot-11 center’s hands. But even when Germany could get off a shot, it wasn’t falling. He finished 1 of 5 from the field.
In the first half, North Texas showed precision in execution on both ends of the floor.
Unfortunately for the UTSA Roadrunners, they didn’t really counter any of it. As a result, the Mean Green emerged with a 34-17 lead at intermission.
UTSA’s field goal percentage was its third lowest of the season and its fourth below 30 percent. On the road against Oklahoma, the Roadrunners shot 22.7 percent. Also, at home against UT Rio Grande Valley (25.7), at North Texas (29.2) and at Charlotte (29.4).
The 45 points were the second fewest in a game this year, next to the 44 scored in the 96-44 loss at OU on Nov. 12, in the second game of the year. Against North Texas, UTSA almost hit the season’s low-scoring mark before Isaiah Addo-Ankrah sank a layup with two seconds left.
UTSA 8-16, 1-10
North Texas 16-4, 9-1
Monday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee.