Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015, where the Mavs have won 5 in a row, are now 2-0 in conference and 8-4 overall. And with 5 of the first 7 conference games being played at College Park Center, the Mavs have a chance to add a few more wins to that total by the time we get about halfway through conference play.
A big key has been getting off to fast starts in front of the home crowd, then holding on in the second half. But the best part might be is than an offense really shooting the ball well from outside (the Mavs lead the conference in 3 pt. percentage at .374) is also scoring lots of points in the paint too.
UTA 62, Georgia Southern 61 The outside shot got the Mavs ahead in their the first conference game against Georgia Southern. Nine threes fueled a great first half, with the Mavs jumping out to a 15-2 lead, and up by 13 (40-27) at halftime. It seemed like everything the Mavs put up from beyond the arc went in…Outler banked in one off the glass, Hervey picked up a deflected pass off the floor with the shot clock winding down and calmly drained it from about 25 feet. But bringing back similar memories to the Weber State game, the visiting team played a great second half, finally taking a late lead…with Lonnie McClanahan winning the game for the Mavs against Georgia Southern with a layup with 14 seconds left. The Mavs finished 9-20 from outside and only allowed GSU to shoot 35% for the game, including 5-26 from outside. Finding ways to win close games like that can be huge the later the season gets, where every win is critical (especially in March during the conference tournament).
UTA-GSU game story at UTA Athletics
UTA-GSU game story at GSU Athletics
UTA 99, South Alabama 87 A few days later in a 99-87 win against South Alabama, the Mavs jumped out to another 15-2 lead but this time all 15 points were in the paint (a couple of jumpers from Brandon Williams, a layup by Erick Neal and dunks by Johnny Hill, Kevin Hervey and Anthony Walker). The Mavs would only attempt 15 threes (making 3), but of the 99 points scored, 70 of those points were in the paint. Walker had several huge alley oops and Williams has developed a nice jumper (almost like a hook shot it seems) that is virtually impossible to defend.
As often happens when a team gets out to a huge lead (Mavs lead 55-34 at halftime, shooting 68% for the half)…the team playing from makes some threes (7-14 in the final 20:00 for USA) and some easy layups that would probably a little more closely defended in a much tighter game…and it makes the final score a lot closer than the game actually seemed.
UTA-South Alabama game story at UTA Athletics
UTA-South Alabama game story at South Alabama Athletics
UTA-South Alabama game story at Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Overall, I think the Mavs were expected to score a lot of points this season, and they are definitely living up to those expectations. The defense has looked really good at times with opposing teams having a tough time getting into much of an offensive rhythm. A road win at Troy monday would make the Mavs 9-4 and 3-0 after 13 games. Troy is currently 5-6 in overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Up next: at Troy monday night
Game preview at Troy Athletics