UTA 58, Georgia State 63
Quick post tonight…long week and I’m kinda sleepy. Don’t have a lot of time to dig into the stats tonight.
Coach Hunter does a great job for the Panthers (9-4). They have quickness, a ton of height, they shoot the three very well, have an outstanding coach (Coach Hunter has made the Panthers an elite mid-major program–how many 20+ win seasons have they had the last few years?) play a good zone defense and already have wins over Georgia and Alabama.
UTA, on the other hand, came in at 4-10 in a rebuilding year with a new coach and a roster of talented players without much Division I experience.
GSU started the game by making their first three shots–all three pointers–and after a couple of UTA misses, lead 9-0 a minute and half into the game. Uh-oh. They might score 200. But UTA would come back and take a small lead before halftime, and found themselves down by only 3 at halftime.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was basically just bad basketball for both teams. Both teams came out of the locker room ice-cold and points were hard to come by. Georgia State had maybe one or two baskets in the first 4-5 minutes of the half, but UTA was unable to capitalize and found themselves down by 6-10 points most of the second half. Georgia State had another scoring lull with about 10 minutes left and had several possessions with some unforced errors–bad passes, stepping out of bounds, turnovers and UTA would get as close as three or four in the final minutes but just couldn’t complete the comeback.
Georgia State showed flashes, at times, of why they could be the conference champion. They had good shot selection, passed the ball extremely well, and did a good job of attacking the paint and getting to the free throw line. They reminded me a lot of the really good UTA teams the last two years with their passing. Their zone defense and overall size made it extremely tough for UTA to penetrate or even dump the ball into Ibarguen so UTA had to settle for a lot of contested threes. UTA was successful on 8% of their attempts–2 of 25 from outside.
It was a sloppy second half for both teams but the Mavs did have a few chances at the end to cut the lead to two or three. But one of the final possessions where UTA scored or made a couple of free throws–GSU threw a long pass to beat the Maverick defense down the court for an easy layup and a foul (I think) to make it a 5 point game again. Another possession after a UTA score then immediately resulted in a UTA defensive foul on the inbounds play, and GSU made one or two free throws to keep it a two-possession game.
Glass half empty, or half full? In this game, if Georgia State had played their best ball, the Panthers would have won by 20. But If UTA had just made another three or two along the way, we’re talking about a win over a very good team. Just the way rebuilding seasons go, and UTA did improve I think in some areas. As these players play together, I think we’ll start seeing the chemistry and the flow return to the offense like the last few seasons. Tonight we saw some very good passes to the paint for Ibarguen (again, he was well defended most of the night–they weren’t letting him have any room to do much with the ball close to the basket) and the guards did a good job finding Azore for some open mid-range jumpers. If the threes start falling, I think UTA can be a good middle-of-the-pack Sun Belt team. If not, it will be a long season.
Next game: Georgia Southern 2:00 on Saturday. 2:00 games are hard for me to make so my next report will likely be the next thursday game in a couple of weeks vs. Arkansas State. If anyone wants to send me a game report for Saturday’s game, I might be able to use it for this blog…