Combs’ career night not enough to make up for Deckie Johnson injury for men’s basketball

Combs’ career night not enough to make up for Deckie Johnson injury for men’s basketball

Combs’ career night not enough to make up for Deckie Johnson injury for men’s basketball
January 14
22:32 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs’ career high 28 points and 18 rebounds were not enough to mask the absence of North Texas’ leading scorer in a blowout loss to Marshall University on Thursday night.

For the first time this season, the Mean Green was without junior guard Deckie Johnson, who leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game. He missed the game with a sprained right foot.

Without Johnson, the North Texas offense stalled and did not make its first three pointer until midway through the second half.

“We have to be at full strength,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We aren’t talented enough to overcome a guy that can go get you 20 points a night.”

With Johnson on the bench in a walking boot, the Mean Green started the game exceptionally flat on offense and lacked floor spacing – something North Texas’ offense is predicated on. Additionally, the Mean Green shot just 35.1 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed by 28 points going into halftime.

Freshman center Rickey Brice (23) shoots a hook shot in the post against Marshall. Brice was mostly quiet having only four rebounds in 14 minutes. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshman center Rickey Brice (23) shoots a hook shot in the post against Marshall. Brice was mostly quiet having only four rebounds in 14 minutes. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

“Not having Deckie hurt us,” Benford said. “It hurt us from the standpoint of not having a rhythm offensively. That hurts when you’re leading scorer isn’t playing. That hurt us, especially early on. He’s a guy that can make shots and he takes pressure of [Combs] and [Reese.]”

Even without the team’s leading scorer and top perimeter threat, Combs was able to shine, recording a career high in points while recording his third consecutive double-double. He had 12 points and eight rebounds at halftime.

But Combs was not satisfied with his performance.

“It doesn’t really mean anything since it came in a loss,” Combs said. “I could have gave more. I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win.”

Benford, however, thought Combs’ performance was more than exemplary.

“I thought Jeremy played hard. He always played hard,” Benford said. “I don’t know what else you can give us. When somebody gives you 28 [points] and 18 [rebounds], you can’t fault that. It’s a total effort.”

Marshall shot the ball well all night and frequently exploited North Texas’ inability to close out on shooters and switch on ball screens. The Thundering Herd shot 41.2 percent from beyond the arc for the game and made 14 threes.

Seven Marshall players made a three in the game, something junior guard J-Mychal Reese said made guarding them increasingly difficult to do.

“Most teams don’t play like that,” Reese said. “It’s just different.”

Featured Image: Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) goes up for a layup against Marshall. Combs had a career night going 12-19 from the field with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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