Throughout nonconference play, the Charlotte 49ers’ men’s basketball team often struggled to find its stride offensively in the early moments of games.
So with their first Conference USA contest looming, many of the 49ers took advantage of their 11-day break for the Christmas holiday to focus on shooting and reverse that trend.
The results of this extra work showed early and often Saturday at Halton Arena, where Charlotte dispatched North Texas 101-76 in the teams’ conference opener behind its best first-half performance this season.
Charlotte (7-5, 1-0 C-USA) trailed 4-0 early before answering with an 8-0 run. A free throw by J-Mychal Reese snapped that, but sophomore guard Andrien White quickly responded with his first 3-pointer of the game.
White’s shot sparked a pivotal stretch for the 49ers, during which they went 9-for-10 from the field and 6-for-7 on 3-pointers while outscoring North Texas 24-10. The Mean Green (6-7, 0-1) cut the deficit to as few as 11 points, but Charlotte entered halftime with a 52-30 lead after shooting 51.4 percent from the field and going 9-for-11 on 3-pointers.
The 49ers’ 52 first-half points marked their most of the season, surpassing the 50 points scored in the first half against USC Upstate on Nov. 22. North Texas came within 17 points in the second, but it couldn’t overcome the large cushion Charlotte built.
Three who mattered
White: Scored a game-best 20 points off the bench, going 6-for-8 from the field and 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.
Jon Davis: The sophomore guard finished with 19 points, marking his 11th game this season with double-digit points.
Quentin Jackson: After showing signs of improvement in recent weeks, the freshman guard scored a career-best 17 points. He added five rebounds and four assists.
▪ Charlotte entered Saturday ranked 22nd nationally in turnovers forced per game. The 49ers disrupted North Texas’ offense, forcing 21 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.
▪ After struggling with his 3-point shot for most of the season, senior guard Braxton Ogbueze delivered his most efficient performance from behind the arc, going 4-for-5.
▪ Redshirt junior center Benas Griciunas made his second straight start for the 49ers in place of junior forward J.C. Washington, a junior-college transfer who Charlotte announced on Friday had transferred after playing in nine games.
▪ Senior forward Anthony Vanhook finished with eight assists Saturday, marking his fourth game with five or more assists and his second with at least eight.
They said it
“To have a guy like Andrien coming off the bench today, he came in locked and loaded, hit his first three or four shots and was off to the races.” – Charlotte coach Mark Price on White’s performance.