Early Test Passed

UTAfireworks20131115_214857We’re back! Welcome to the RustyMaverick.com – 2016/2017 edition.

This season started with a great game at home.

Texas Southern, a team many are predicting to win the SWAC, gave UTA a good challenge but just couldn’t keep up with UTA’s uptempo offense in the first game of the season before a lower-bowl filling Homecoming crowd of 4,532, the ninth largest basketball crowd in College Park Center history.

Much has been written of UTA’s depth this season, and it was on full display tonight. Starting with a lineup of Pope-Bilbao-Neal-Charles-Jones the Mavs built a nice 10-15 point lead early and it stayed that way much of the half. TSU got to within 4 about 10:00 left or so but UTA pulled away pretty quickly to an 11-point lead and the game was never really in doubt at that point.

Potential NBA pick Kevin Hervey, in his first game since a knee injury in the middle of last season, came off the bench to score 16 on 4-11 FG, 0-6 3pt, made all 8 free throws and had 11 rebounds. A nice line for most starters, but consider Hervey did all that tonight in only 20 minutes. His 10-20 foot jumpshot still looks as natural and effortless as ever.

Kaelon Wilson and Jalen Jones were nearly impossible to guard, using their speed and strength to attack the basket with authority all night. The Mavs did a good job of getting the ball into the paint, rather than just settling for contested jumpers.

Overall the passing was fairly crisp for the first game of the season, Turnovers: UTA 14, TSU 8. UTA shot 55% for the game, but the three point shot, a weakness at times last season, wasn’t falling (Hervey had several that looked like they easy were going in, only to rebound out) but the Mavs finished 20%. Jones 3-6.

UTA, which led the nation in rebounding last year, used their length to pick up where they left off from 2015-2016, doing a great job on the glass and picking up 39 (Hervey 11, Pope 8, Bilbao and Pope 6 each).

TSU’s Zack Lofton scored 35 on 12-25 shooting. TSU has some size and a couple of players that can really shoot the ball well. Will be interesting to follow them this year and see how their season goes. After playing in Arlington tonight (game was over about 9:30 or so), they play their next game only about 15 hours later at Delaware State at 1PM Sunday.

Debuts for new players Link Kabadyundi, DJ Bryant and Erkam Kiris: Link, a junior transfer 7’2 270 lb. center, had a rebound and a block in 5 minutes of action. Huge size, runs the floor very well for a big player in the Mavs’ uptempo offense, will be fun to watch. Can’t imagine how many shots he will block this season. But it will be MANY I’m guessing! Point guard DJ Bryant played 6 minutes and didn’t score but looked pretty comfortable running the offense when he was on the floor. Erkam Kiris, a 6’8″ freshman forward played 2 minutes. Made a couple of nice passes but didn’t really get a chance to score.

Tough week ahead for the Mavs: at Minnesota monday, at Florida Gulf Coast wednesday, at Arkansas Friday. A win or two on the road would be huge against those three quality opponents but 3 games in 5 days is a tough schedule. Mavs’ next home games are the monday and wednesday 11/21 and 11/23 before Thankgiving vs. St. Francis and Mount St. Mary’s.

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