Heading into tonight’s game the Mean Green were 8-1 and the Sycamores were 6-1. I have been a lifelong Sycamores fan so this recap will have some Sycamore bias to it. I do not know much about North Texas other than they changed their name recently to the Mean Green after Mean Joe Green. Before they were known as the Screamin’ Eagles. They are the 2nd Conference USA team the Sycamores have played this year. Anywho let’s get to the game.
First impressions: ISU looks to be the more physically imposing threat. They look bigger than North Texas. The other big takeaway is that the Mean Green have pretty fly road jerseys. Black with green trim. So at least this game would be aesthetically pleasing. Indiana State goes with the big lineup. Jordan Barnes and Tyreke Key at the guard spots, Allante Holston at the 3, Devin Thomas and Emondre Rickman round out the starting lineup. North Texas starts 4 guys that shoot the lights out and an imposing big we will get to later. TIP-OFF TIME!!!! (said in an announcer’s voice).
Rickman wins the tip as the ball gets batted back to Barnes. Ugly possession. Not what you want to see as a Sycamore fan. Smart for the Mean Green knocks down a 3-ball. The Mean Green open up an 8-0 run in the first 2 minutes. Coach Lansing is pissed calls a timeout and subs in 2 guards. One of them the fan favorite energy guy Clayton Hughes. Barnes finally scores the first points of the game for the Sycamores. This is the norm. The Sloppy play resumes for the Sycamores through the first media timeout. North Texas airballs a 3 with 15:03 to go in the half and ISU is finally scoring buckets but the game is still very much in the Mean Green’s favor. Barnes draws a foul to get to the under 12 media timeout. during that 4 minute stanza, the highlight was a Hughes 3 pointer. After that break, Barnes knocks down a pair of free throws to cut the lead down to 5. After that, the ugliness resumes. The Mean Green continue to stay hot from downtown and take advantage of the weak perimeter defense from the Sycamores.
At around the under 8, Rickman had a nice block protecting the rim. Unfortunately, that was his lone bright spot tonight. He stepped out of bounds a couple times trying to score in the post and overall was a step behind all game. For that matter, none of the big men for Indiana State were particularly stellar this evening. During this timeout was the free throw contest at the Hulman Center. Each game the total prize money goes up $50.00 with every non-winner. We had a winner tonight, which was somewhat surprising as at the last game the winner hit 7 free throws but missed the money shot. Tonight there was a winner. The prize pool was either $200 or $250 bucks. I don’t know what it was as they usually miss and for some reason was checked out. Probably because the game was going poorly.
A trend this game was Barnes driving the lane, getting fouled and taking advantage of the aggressive play from the Mean Green. at the 7:02 mark he knocked in 2 foul shots and cut the lead to 23-15. Kessinger then drew a charge. Finally, the Sycamores were showing signs of life for the first time tonight. And then that would go away for a long time. Simmons from North Texas slams it in on a Sycamore. Next possession Simmons gets fed again. It is always nice to reward your bigs after aggressive play. Kessinger then fouls the shit out of Simmons after some pretty weak defense by the Sycamores. That brings us to the first under 4:00 media timeout. It was Yikes all-around for the Sycamores. Barnes and Key were getting theirs, but it was hard to notice as the deficit was mounting. The lone bright spot of the half was that local freshman Washington was hustling. He had a steal that led to a basket on the other end and was really hustling. He has slid into the hustle guy role for this team.
First half ends with a steal by Barnes and a nice 2 man fast-break by Barnes and Key where Key finishes. the Mean Green pushed the ball up the floor and hit a 3 as time runs out. Half Time score is 39-26 Mean Green. Smart and Simmons killed the Sycamores in that half. I had one of the worst experiences at half-time as I stood in line at the concessions waiting to order a single soft pretzel. I am not sure if I got charged the right amount as the old man behind the concession stand didn’t seem to know what he was doing. I know it was probably a volunteer and I shouldn’t be that upset about it, but my gosh was the service slow! The stadium was about 1/8 full. At Hulman Center, that is roughly 1,500 people and that is being generous. My point is, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of people waiting in line. It was befuddling. Anyways, I get back to my seat just as the ball is being inbounded. The Mean Green opened up the 2nd half with a basket.
With the Sycamores now down by 15, I start to accept that this is going to be a long night. Barnes draws a foul to get it to the under 16 media timeout. It is now 49-34. Shortly after this, Barnes had an acrobatic layup off of a turnover to cut into the lead. North Texas has now put ISU in the bonus with 13:00 to go in the game. That is pretty darn impressive. Rickman hits the front end of a 1-in-1 and cuts the lead to 9. ISU looked better in this stanza which ends in Key drawing a charge to get to the under 12:00. 56-47 Mean Green at this point. 11:41 to go in the game and the starting backcourt of Key and Barnes have 30 points so far. Starting to feel confident I didn’t bet on this game. North Texas opens up an 11-1 run out of this break in action.
Rickman has all but disappeared tonight. Kessinger draws another charge. Barnes gets us to the under 8 timeout with an ugly 3-point airball. During this next stint in action, Simmons gets called for a flagrant-2, so he gets thrown out for a hard elbow to Thomas. Somehow after the 2 free throws and getting the ball back, ISU comes away with 1 point. At around the 6-minute mark Jordan Barnes flys down the lane and performs more acrobatics to lay it in. Barnes really worked hard tonight finishing with a game-high 26 points. Key then has an electric one-man fast-break at around the 4:00 mark. Hulman Center is starting to buzz. Do I smell a comeback? Lead has now shrunk to 72-60. the momentum starts to swing the Sycamores way and with 2 minutes to go Barnes hits a 3 to cut the lead to 5. Wow! never thought the Sycamores would make a game out of it. But alas, after the timeout called by Coach Greg Lansing, the Mean Green nail a basket right away and never look back. Final Score 80-69 with the victors being the Mean Green.
Stat of the Game: ISU’s starting backcourt had 47 points. 26 for Barnes and 21 for Key. Hard to believe that you can get that output from the backcourt and never feel like you are in the game.
Hard to win, when you get very little out of the 5 spot. Would have been nice to get a win tonight as the next game is against a non-division one opponent in Truman State. Then the Sycs are on to play TCU and then a holiday tournament.
Happy to see Washington make some plays out there. It seems that even after ISU gets reinforcements in Transfers Cooper Neese and Christian Williams that he will have the hustle guy role. He scraps, he plays tough d, and gets the hustle rebounds. It will be interesting to see what happens when Cooper Neese is finally eligible to play. Hopefully, good things happen.