College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers rout North Texas 103-79, level C-USA record

Charlotte center Joseph Uchebo makes his move to the basket against North Texas center Rickey Brice Jr. in the first half of a college basketball game Saturday. Charlotte won 103-79.
Charlotte center Joseph Uchebo makes his move to the basket against North Texas center Rickey Brice Jr. in the first half of a college basketball game Saturday. Charlotte won 103-79.

Another big half by Charlotte’s men’s basketball team led to another big win by the 49ers on Saturday.

But Charlotte’s 103-79 victory over North Texas had some added significance – it was the first time in 13 months the 49ers have been at .500 in the Conference USA standings.

“About a month ago, if you’d told me we’d be .500 in the conference right now, I’d have said ‘I’m not so sure’,” first-year Charlotte coach Mark Price said. “It’s been an uphill climb, but we’ve just kept working, kept getting better and kept teaching.”

Braxton Ogbueze scored 19 points to lead five players in double figures for the 49ers (10-15, 6-6), who posted their second straight 100-point win – the first time that’s happened since December 1990.

“That’s tough to do – we’re just out there playing and trying to win games,” Ogbueze said. “Scoring 100 points, you can’t be mad about that.”

Curran Scott and Joseph Uchebo added 15 points each, Andrien White 14 and Anthony Vanhook 12 for Charlotte.

While the 49ers never trailed in Saturday’s game, North Texas (9-16, 4-8) managed to stay close in the first half before Charlotte pulled out to a 56-35 halftime lead.

The Mean Green had cut the 49ers’ lead to 19-17 with nine minutes remaining when Charlotte cut loose, making 12 of its next 14 shots (including 11 straight to close out the half) during a 37-18 run.

North Texas pulled within 66-49 six minutes into the second half, but another 49ers run – this one 27-14 over the next nine minutes – put them ahead 93-63, and never challenged after that.

Three who mattered

Braxton Ogbueze: Made 6 of 11 from the field, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers. Also tied his career high with six assists.

Andrien White: Made 5 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 6 3-pointers. Also had two of the 49ers four steals.

Joseph Uchebo: Had problems against Mean Green’s big men, finishing with four rebounds. But he had a season-best in assists (three) and equaled his best in blocked shots (two).

Observations

▪ The 49ers followed up their 102-79 win over Rice on Thursday by shooting 56.9 percent from the field Saturday (33 of 58), and making 14 of 31 3-pointers and 23 of 28 from the free-throw line.

▪ Meanwhile, the Mean Green shot 43.3 percent (26 of 60), and was 3 of 14 on 3-pointers. It was even worse in the first half – 35.7 percent shooting (10 of 28), and 1 of 4 3-pointers.

▪ One area North Texas managed to better Charlotte in was rebounding, with a 33-30 advantage. It was even more pronounced on offensive rebounding – an 11-5 edge, leading to 10 second-chance points.

▪ An interesting stat – Uchebo, eighth in the nation in rebounding at 11.5 per game, only had one rebound in the first half Saturday.

Worth mentioning

▪ The last time the 49ers put together back-to-back triple-digit games was Dec. 15-28, 1009, when they beat Clemson (108-100), West Virginia (110-103) and Navy (117-109).

▪ The last time Charlotte was at .500 in league play came Jan. 4-15, 2015, the opening weeks of the 2014-15 Conference USA season, when the 49ers were 2-2 after wins over Marshall and North Texas and losses to Old Dominion and Western Kentucky.

▪ Jeremy Combs led North Texas with 24 points and nine rebounds, with J-Mychal Reese adding 18 points.

▪ The 49ers play their next two C-USA games on the road, at Marshall on Thursday and at Western Kentucky next Saturday.

They said it

▪ “To get these two wins was really big for us. It’s put us in a position where we can change the conversation in terms of seeding in the conference tournament. We’ve just got to keep the momentum going to next week.” – Ogbueze.

▪ “It’s all about conference play. Everything that we went through early in the year, you hope and believe that it’s going to prepare you, even though we lost some really tough games to some really good teams early in the season. But you hope those games toughen you, harden you to be able to go out and play well in conference. For the most part, that’s been the case.” – Price.

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