HOUSTON — The North Texas men’s basketball team’s eight-game winning streak was snapped Saturday afternoon with a 84-75 loss at Rice.
After fighting their way back from a 10-point halftime deficit, the Mean Green (14-9, 8-2 C-USA) took their largest lead — seven points — with 8:55 left in the game following a Umoja Gibson 3-pointer. However, the lead didn’t last long as the Owls (10-13, 2-8 C-USA) immediately went on a 6-0 run and then tied the game with 7:12 remaining after sinking one of their 15 3-pointers.
“Give Rice all the credit,” UNT coach Grant McCasland said. “They took it to us. They were the more aggressive team from the jump. They were attacking from the beginning. They have a good scoring team.
“We just couldn’t get stops late, which had been our calling card,” he added.
Rice made 12 of its first 14 field goal attempts, half of which were 3-pointers.
After North Texas cut the deficit to five points with 1:56 left in the first half, the Owls scored five straight points to take a 10-point lead at the midway point. It was the first time the Mean Green had trailed at halftime since Jan. 4 at Marshall — the first win of the eight-game winning streak.
“We just weren’t good enough collectively on defense” McCasland. “They were doing what they wanted to do and we couldn’t disrupt them.”
North Texas was led by Gibson and DJ Draper. The two each scored 18 points, which led all players. Combined, they made 10 of UNT’s 16 3-pointers on Saturday. For the redshirt senior Draper, the 18 points is a season-high and the six made 3-pointers ties a career-best for a single game. Draper, who came off the bench for the Mean Green, was six-of-seven from deep. He began the game a blazing five-of-five and was a catalyst early in the second half in his team’s comeback.
The defending Conference USA Player of the Week Javion Hamlet added 15 points and had seven assists.
The Mean Green remain on the road as they travel to Middle Tennessee on Thursday to face the Blue Raiders at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the Mean Green Sports Network.