“I felt like going into the season that we could upset one of the big boys with this team because we do pass it well, we do shoot it well. We saw glimpses of it in our first two games. We had lulls in the second half, but we were able to put together two halves tonight.”
–UT Arlington coach Scott Cross
UTA 73, Ohio State 68
Granted, this was only one of about 9,000 games (about 300 Div. I teams x 30 games) that will be played this year…40 minutes of floor action, about two hours in an arena. But for a lot of longtime UTA fans, these 40 minutes will be celebrated for years to come.
After so many close games against elite programs over the years (Utah loss by 1 in ’86 and the OT loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville against a good Razorbacks team about 15 years come to mind), we finally got the big win. It was Ohio State’s first loss to an unranked team in like 60 games. Think about that for a moment. Wow.
And this wasn’t one of those fluke upsets where a small school goes a once-a-decade 16-of-20 from outside and beats the bigger school who shoots a once-a-decade .200 from the field. UTA shot 35% from the field, Ohio State shot 41%. Even on turnovers at 13. 6-of-23 from three for UTA, 9-of-23 from three for OSU. Nothing stellar. Not a game where both teams stay in the 50s or a crazy 3-point contest with both teams in the 90s.
No, this was a well earned, hard-fought win. Make your free throws, outrebound, outwork, savor the victory. Yes, free throws and rebounds–UTA made 18 of 21 FT, but Ohio State only 13 of 27. UTA outrebounded Ohio State 46-37.
In golf terms, they lead the first couple of rounds, put themselves in a position to make the big putt on 18 and then drained it for the win.
One win does not define a season. Anything can happen. We could win 10 games, or 25. But if nothing else, this will be known as the year we went on the road and beat a high-major in their building. This will be the night that everything practiced and coached and executed worked to near perfection. A validation of all the hard work put in.
And hopefully, it’ll be known as one of many big wins in a ‘trip to the big dance’ year.