As a cold wind blows outside, North Texas’ Ousmane rains 37 points on UTSA

John Buggs III. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard John Buggs III led a second-half charge for the UTSA Roadrunners, but the North Texas Mean Green stopped the rally and puilled away for a lopsided victory in the Conference USA opener for both teams. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Mother Nature directed an Arctic blast of cold air at San Antonio on Thursday afternoon, just about the same time that the North Texas Mean Green and UTSA Roadrunners tipped off in a Conference USA opener at the Convocation Center.

Steve Henson. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners fell to 6-6 on the season and to 0-1 in Conference USA after losing 78-54 to North Texas Thursday night. – Photo by Joe Alexander

At the end of the night, North Texas forward Abou Ousmane emerged as a force of nature himself. He rained a career-high 37 points on the UTSA Roadrunners in leading the Mean Green to a 78-54 victory.

Ousmane hit 15 of 19 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds as North Texas (10-2) won its fifth in a row on the season. In addition, the Mean Green added to their recent dominance of the Roadrunners, improving to 9-2 against UTSA over the past eight seasons.

Ousmane, a 6-foot-10 Brooklyn native, was the talk of post-game interviews. Coming in, he was averaging a little more than 11 points. His previous career high was 23.

“I was most impressed with his patience,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “He was 15 of 19, and I thought he was composed. And then when he took his time and our team was patient on the offensive end, I thought we got the shots we wanted. That showed in 17 assists and nine turnovers.”

Jacob Germany. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany, playing on a recently sprained ankle, contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes against North Texas. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA (6-6) didn’t shoot well in the first half but still managed to stay within reach of the visitors, trailing by 11 at halftime. Led by Japhet Medor an John Buggs III, the Roadrunners hit a few threes, attacked the basket and pulled to within one point twice early in the second half.

A driving layup by Josh Farmer capped a 19-9 run and pulled the Roadrunners to within one point, 43-42, with 12:46 remaining.

From there, the Roadrunners started to settle for jump shots, lost a little of their edge on each possession and watched as the Mean Green exploded for 17 unanswered points. A dunk by Ousmane capped the streak and made it an 18-point game, 60-42, with 6:55 remaining.

UTSA never got closer than 15 the rest of the way and lapsed again in the final minutes, as North Texas rolled up as much as a 27-point lead. It all left UTSA coach Steve Henson and his staff searching for answers.

Asked what he told his players in the locker room, he said, “I was pretty honest with ’em. It’s not acceptable. You know, it’s a home game. It’s a conference game. We were in pretty good shape there midway through the second half and ended up losing badly. You can’t feel good about that.

“If they feel good about that right now, then something’s not right. It’s just not good enough. You know, we gave up 50 percent (shooting) to them. We shoot 33 percent. Turned it over too much and got out-rebounded.

Japhet Medor. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Japhet Medor battles to create space on a drive to the hoop. Medor finished with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds – Photo by Joe Alexander

“You know, there’s not many phases of the game left. Again, proud of certain stretches of the ball game. I still love this team. I love our guys. I like their attitudes, for the most part. But we’ve got to play harder.”

Injuries played a role in the lopsided margin. UTSA was playing its first game of the season without forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, one of the team’s best three-point shooters. Addo-Ankrah, who scored 14 in his last outing, was sidelined after being diagnosed earlier this week with a wrist fracture.

Additionally, UTSA center Jacob Germany also was less than full speed. Germany twisted an ankle badly in a home game on Sunday and wasn’t himself in a couple of days of practice coming into Thursday night.

Germany had a good first half in some respects, with eight points and seven rebounds. But matched against Ousmane, it appeared he had some trouble springing off the floor and with lateral movement.

Regardless, he played with significant heart and finished with 11 points and 12 boards. Medor led the Roadrunners with 12 points and John Buggs III had 10.

Foul trouble plagued UTSA freshman standout DJ Richards. Richards had three in the first half and picked up a fourth early in the second half. He finished with eight points on three of 11 shooting. Richards was two of eight from three.

In scoring 54 points, the Roadrunners fell 16 shy of their season average. They also shot 32.7 percent from the field, which was also down from their 41.2 percent reading through the first 11 games.


North Texas 10-2, 1-0
UTSA 6-6, 0-1

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Dec. 29;; UTSA at UAB, Dec. 31.


Former UTSA great Devin Brown was a face in the crowd at courtside. Brown, No. 3 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,922 points, led the Roadrunners to the 1999 NCAA tournament. He later played in the NBA and won a championship with the Spurs. Brown was recently named to the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.

JB’s video replay

Posting up to score

Double-clutching on the drive

Taking it inside

First half

With North Texas forward Abou Ousmane scoring 2o first-half points and the Mean Green clamping down defensively, the Roadrunners found themselves down by 11 at intermission. North Texas held UTSA to 32 percent shooting and surged at the break to a 34-23 lead.

UTSA’s offense never got untracked in the half, shooting 9 of 28 from the field and 1 of 7 from three-point distance. Germany led the Roadrunners with eight points and seven rebounds at the break.

Buggs-Ousmane friendship adds a layer of intrigue to the UTSA-North Texas rivalry

John Buggs III. A beat Bethune-Cookman 90-69 in men's basketball on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s John Buggs III says his good friend Abou Ousmane of the North Texas Mean Green has been playfully ‘talking noise’ on the eve of tonight’s game at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If you ask John Buggs III a question, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get an interesting answer, around which he almost always spins a yarn about his life in basketball.

For instance, I asked Buggs yesterday about playing tonight at the UTSA Convocation Center against the North Texas Mean Green.

It’s the Conference USA opener for both Buggs and the UTSA Roadrunners and the Mean Green, who have been a dominant force in the league for the past five seasons.

As a newcomer in the UTSA program, Buggs has yet to experience what it’s like to host the Mean Green at the Bird Cage.

Other than last season when North Texas dominated in a 59-48 victory, the UTSA-North Texas games played in San Antonio recently have been close, coming down to one or two possessions in the final minutes.

The crowd, as you’d expect, has usually been animated and vocal.

I was curious to get Buggs’ take on the rivalry, and what the game means to him at this juncture of an up and down season for the Roadrunners.

Also, what it means to him, to get a crack at the defending conference regular-season champions on opening night.

“I feel like we’re very excited,” Buggs said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity that we have. We can definitely open a lot of eyes by getting a win, you know.”

It’s been a tough deal for UTSA to get many wins against North Texas lately.

In five previous seasons under Coach Grant McCasland, the Mean Green have posted a 6-2 record against the Roadrunners, including 3-2 in San Antonio.

Since 2017-18, North Texas has won handily in all three games against UTSA in Denton, all by double digits. In San Antonio, as mentioned, the games have been hotly contested for most of the 40 minutes on the game clock.

For instance, in December 2017, UTSA freshmen Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace and Co. battled to the end before North Texas made a few plays and won, 72-71.

In January 2019, Jackson hit a memorable, spinning jump shot in the final seconds to lift the Roadrunners to a 76-74 victory.

Two years ago, during the pandemic season, North Texas played at UTSA on back-to-back nights. The Mean Green pulled out a 77-70 decision on the front end of the double dip.

But UTSA bounced back the next night to exact revenge, winning 77-69 against a North Texas team that would go on to play in the NCAA tournament.

Last season, North Texas was all over UTSA at the Bird Cage with a smothering defensive effort. It was all Mean Green down the stretch in a 59-48 drubbing.

Buggs likely doesn’t know all the history, but he does know a little about this year’s North Texas squad based on film study.

He knows North Texas is a quality team, one of the best in the nation defensively, and that a win tonight for UTSA could really alter the trajectory of the season.

“I’m really excited,” Buggs said, a smile creasing his face. “One of my (former) teammates plays on their team, so we’ve been talking back and forth a little bit.”

Who does he know?

“Abou Ousmane,” Buggs replied. “We played together for a year at prep school.”

In Connecticut, in the 2018-19 season, right?

At the Putnam Science Academy?

“Yeah, he’s a little younger than me,” Buggs said. “But we were at the same prep school for a little while. Last year, when I was at Juco (at Hill College, in Hillsboro) I went to watch him play (in Denton) many, many times.

“(Ousmane) was one of my best friends in prep school. So, you know, we got a little duel going on (this week).”

If you think about it, the Buggs-Ousmane reunion is quite a hoops coincidence. Buggs is from northwest Louisiana and Ousmane, a 6-10 forward, is from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Both played together at the prep school in northeast Connecticut for one year, became friends and now they’re on opposite teams for a bragging-rights type game, scheduled to be contested in San Antonio, a few days before Christmas in 2022.

“We definitely have kept in touch,” Buggs said, smiling. “It’s going to be a show (tonight) for sure.”

So, have you talked to him or texted in the last several days?

“Yeah, I talked to him two days ago?” he said in an interview Wednesday at UTSA. “Actually before the Bethune-Cookman game (last Sunday), he was calling, talking noise. You know, he was throwing (verbal) shots. I said, ‘We ready.’ It’s going to be a good test for us tomorrow.