UTA (7-3) 78, Florida Gulf Coast (7-4) 85
An energetic crowd of 2600+ was treated to game that saw one team shoot 54% and make over half it’s threes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the home team.
Florida Gulf Coast University, known as “Dunk City”, plays a very uptempo game and has several players that can really score. The Eagles pushed the ball up the court in transition all afternoon, drove into the paint into open areas for a lot of short jumpers and layups and earning a lot of trips to the free throw line. They also shot the ball well from outside, going 10-19 from three point range. The Eagles are very tall, athletic, play fast, rebound the ball well and do a good job of spreading the ball around to find open shooters. They also turned the ball over 24 times, but also scored 24 points off 21 Maverick turnovers. The Mavs’ interior defense allowed a lot of uncontested shots and on offense missed a lot of layups and short jumpers that are usually easy baskets.
“I was a little disappointed defensively. We weren’t locked-in mentally. Our guys (seemed) more concerned about the officials than playing the game. We preach all the time to control the controllables. You can’t control the officials. From my view, they did a fine job. I didn’t see any issues (with the officiating). They may have missed a couple on our end. They probably missed a couple on the other end. You have to play basketball. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t do that. When you blame others, you aren’t going to win basketball games.”
— UTA coach Scott Cross
The Mavs shot the ball pretty well for the first time in a few games, making 47% FG for the ame, including 11-25 (46%) from outside. The game was tightly contested (but not overly so in my opinion) and even saw four players get technical fouls (one for FGCU, three for UTA). The Mavs lead by as many as 7 about midway through the first half, but a few turnovers and FGCU baskets gave the Eagles a 37-32 at halftime. Even though FGCU outscored the Mavs by only two (48-46) in the second half, the game didn’t really seem all that close for the most part. The Mavs weren’t able put together a big run to or get going consistently on offense to keep up with FGCU’s 58.3% shooting and found themselves down by 19 with 10:01 left in the game. The Mavs attempted a comeback in the final 5:00 or so, getting a couple defensive stops and Erick Neal making a couple of threes to get the deficit down to seven, but that’s about as close as the Mavs would get. A couple of missed UTA shots and couple of FGCU free throws in the game’s final minutes made the final score 85-78.
Kevin Hervey scored 25 points on 8-18 shooting (4-6 from outside) and had 10 rebounds, Erick Neal was 4-10 from outside for 15 points, Nathan Hawkins scored 10 on 4-8 shooting, Kaelon Wilson was 4-7 (2 of 3 from outside) and Johnny Hamilton scored 10.
Sometimes you can play mediocre defense and make up for it with a good offensive effort. But not this afternoon–just too many UTA turnovers, a lack of fluid ball movement that we’ve seen create so many open shots the last few years, too many wide-open looks for FGCU from 5-10 feet out. The Mavs were also outrebounded again 32-28. Overall, the Eagles made it look very easy at times.
The Mavs are still a good team, but this week’s losses in a row to good mid-majors FGCU and #18-RPI NIU probably didn’t help the Mavs’ chances of a potential at-large bid in March. We just need wins at this point. UTA gets a week off, then a game at UT-RGV next week (note: UT-RGV defeated North Texas by 12 in Denton on November 20). The Mavericks desperately need a win there before facing a very good Creighton team that is 7-2 on the season and 5-0 at home with two wins over top-20 teams (#20 Northwestern, #23 UCLA) to start the season.