North Texas kicked off its 2018-19 campaign with a coming out party for many of its new pieces that had to sit out last year for various reasons. Umoja Gibson and Jahmiah Simmons both got a start for the game while Mark Tikhonenko got some decent minutes late into the game. Gibson is going to provide another deep threat shooter for North Texas to go alongside with Roosevelt Smart and DJ Draper. Jahmiah Simmons should work well as another inside banger but has the ability to be good at driving to the rim from the perimeter.
Roosevelt Smart sat out for the game due to a minor pre-season injury. The coaching staff has indicated that he is likely to return to the lineup after the Rainbow Classic tournament. After the hot start by Gibson, I think this coaching staff will face a tough (or lucky?) decision of who to start — Smart or Gibson. Both will certainly be able to sub in for each other and teams better be weary if both are on the court at the same time.
Your player of the game easily went to Redshirt Freshman Umoja Gibson. We was 10 of 14 (71.4%!) from the floor, seven of 11 (63.6%!) from behind the arc, and five of seven (71.4%) from the charity stripe where he lead all scorers in the game with 32 points. He also added three total rebounds and two steals to his stat sheet.
DJ Draper come in hot off the bench adding 19 points on six of 11 (54.5%) shooting from the floor, five of eight (62.5%) from behind the arc, and he made both of his free throws.
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Newcomers Shine for North Texas
Umoja Gibson has the ability and confidence to shoot from just about anywhere from the court. He also doesn’t worry about setting his feet when shooting and has a very smooth stroke. I don’t recall seeing him stake a step-back three but I expect him to have that shot in his arsenal.
Jahmiah Simmons played some good defense around the basket on some solid minutes in his first career start alongside Zach Simmons to clog up the lane.
Mark “The Russian” Tikhonenko got some mop up minutes late into
Up next for the Mean Green is a plane trip to Hawaii for a three game series in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic. The first team North Texas will face is Humboldt State on Friday November 9th at 8:30 PM. Saturday North Texas will square off against Portland, also at 8:30 PM. For the final game, North Texas will meet host Hawaii on Sunday, November 11th at 10:00 PM.
Hot Sports Opinion
This team has all the right chess pieces and a coaching staff in place to do some more special things this season. With all the shooters, especially from behind the arc, I see no reason why this team can’t compete for a conference or tournament championship. The depth at the guard positions is unbelievable and we appear to be a little better with our forwards. This team looks to have improved on its free throw shooting so far. It will be interesting to see how the Mean Green handle a lengthy road trip to Hawaii to face off against two Div. I schools and another Div. II school. Both Humboldt State (9-19) and Portland (10-22) finished with losing records while Hawaii finished with a 17-13 record (6th in MWC). Coming out with three wins would go a long way towards another 20 win season.
Conference USA Action
Western Kentucky 55
Old Dominion 67
Lees McRae 69
Middle Tennessee 91
Louisiana Tech 71
Wichita State 58
St. Leo 55
Southeastern Baptist College 66
Southern Miss 111
Texas Permian Basin 63