UTA 76, UNT 61
It was my first time seeing a game in the Super Pit. We fought chilly, dreadful misty, rainy driving conditions up I-35 but once we got there, seeing a game there for the first time was a pretty enjoyable experience…a huge parking lot right across from the facility adjacent to Fouts Field, ticket booths located at the entrances inside the building, a good game-day presentation, great seat pitch where you could easily see over the row in front of you, a bright 4-sided video board over center court and no lines at the plentiful concession stands and restrooms. At $5, a general admission ticket is a bargain. The big bowl-style arena seats about 10,000, with a concourse dividing the upper and lower halves of the arena. For an arena almost 50 years old, it has aged well.
The two questions going into today:
will UTA have a letdown after the huge win at the University of Texas (who beat a good Alabama team last night)? And UNT has two division I wins vs. teams that are a combined 2-12 and a couple of losses against bigger schools and a couple of wins against non-Division I schools. So how good is UNT, and how will the Mean Green play against their metroplex rival? UTA has won 4 out of the last 5 meetings between the schools if I recall correctly.
Well, a very subdued announced crowd of about 2300 (about 40% of which were Maverick fans) saw UTA (4-4, 1-0 vs. Big 12) saw UTA pretty dismantle UNT from the opening tip. The final deficit was 16, but it was not that close. UTA is much, much, better than UNT right now.
UTA has a very balanced offensive attack and quickly raced out to an 8-0 lead just 2:01 into the game after two Jalen Jones three and a Kevin Hervey basket. That pretty much set the tone for the game, the Mavs getting up by 13 with 5:07 left in the half. The Mavs were successful at denying entry to the paint, UNT wasn’t making many threes and the Mavs were quickly proving there was no letdown after the big win vs. Texas Tuesday night.
The Mavs offense lost a little momentum at the end of the first half and UNT closed the half on a nice run to get the lead down to 4 by halftime. But overall, it was pretty good half for the Mavs, limiting to UNT to just 22% FG for the first half.
The second half was all Mavs, quickly getting the lead back up to 11 at 41-30 on a Jorge Bilbao basket at 17:22 before UNT cut it back down to 7 on a shot by J-Mychal Reese, making the score 41-34 at 16:26. That’s as close as UNT would get, as UTA was unstoppable the rest of the half, creating turnovers and making shots in transition.
The Mavs shot a blistering 57% for the second half, and achieved a 23-point lead at 63-40 with 9:47 left. The Mavs margin was still 23 with 7:51 left, and the final margin was 16.
Hervey was a spectacular 8-13 for 21 points, Jorge Bilbao simply overpowered defenders inside with 3-7FG, 8-8FT for 14 points. Mavs were good-but-not great again from outside at 10-26 with Hervey and Kaelon Wilson both 3-6. The Mavs were outrebounded 40-37. 18-8 on offensive boards. The Mavs committed 19 turnovers (14 for UNT).
The Mavs defense was pretty locked in all day, again not letting UNT establish much of an offensive flow. UNT definitely has some talented players and some size, but just couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm at all. And a lot of unforced errors and scoring lulls didn’t help the Mean Green either. UNT’s Jeremy Combs, coming back after 4 games due to an injury, scored 21 points of the bench (4-8FG, 5-7 FT) and J-Mychal Reese scored 12, but UTA did a good job of keeping other key scorers from getting going (A.J. Lawson 3 points, Rickey Brice 2 points, Deckie Johnson 2 points).
The Super Pit is an OK place to see a game but the Mavs 8-0 start and quickly-expanding lead took the crowd out of it early (except for UNT’s run late in the first half), and the large contingent of Mavs fans were quite vocal. But overall, today’s contest didn’t really have the electricity in the air that one would expect of a regional rivalry game. Makes me appreciate the 6,000 fans from both schools that showed up at College Park Center last year to see these two teams play.
Up next: vs. UT-Dallas monday.