April 12, 2018
DENTON – The 2017-18 North Texas men's basketball season was a tale of redemption and building the foundation for the future. Returners Michael Miller, Roosevelt Smart and Zachary Simmons sat down with Mean Green Production's Kara Bullock to discuss their memories of the season.
In a season mixed with highs and lows, the Mean Green took advantage of an opportunity to play in the 2018 College Basketball Invitational. North Texas ended the regular season falling at the buzzer 68-66 to UTEP and lost in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament to Louisiana Tech, 68-62.
The Mean Green thought their season was over at 15-17 but the CBI offered an invite into the postseason to give the team new life. North Texas proceeded to go 5-1 and win two of three in the CBI Championship series against San Francisco to be crowned CBI champions.
A new-look North Texas lineup fueled the postseason run after inserting Miller and fellow junior Jorden Duffy into the starting lineup before the first round game at South Dakota. Miller switched from shooting left-handed all season to right-handed and scored a career-high 19 points with four three-pointers. Duffy added 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the upset win over 26-win South Dakota. The Mean Green dominated the competition in their CBI run with all five wins coming by double-digits.
The four-guard lineup proved to be a difficult matchup but adversity hit again when San Francisco earned a 10-point victory in game one of the CBI finals. The Dons hit 12 first-half three-pointers and held North Texas to 62 points in the win.
The Mean Green returned home and responded with their backs against the wall forcing a winner-take-all game three after a 14-point win in game two of the series. In game three, North Texas seized the momentum in a close game down the stretch in front of a season-high crowd of 6,291.
San Francisco cut the lead to one point, but North Texas finished the game 32-for-43 from the free throw line. Smart led the team with 25 points, including a perfect 14-for-14 at the line.
In the end, North Texas would secure its 10th 20-win season and provide fans a glimpse into the potential of this team going forward.
"Our coaches every day kept pushing us, there was never a day where they took a day off," Simmons said. "They are always talking about you are never going to stop playing hard because that is our foundation. It is a lot about our execution that ended up being why we won some games and lost some games but it was never about our effort."