UT-Arlington (12-12, 8-3) 78, Appalachian State (8-16, 3-8) 68
This was a fast-paced and very entertaining basketball game. UTA faced a very athletic and uptempo Appalachian State team at College Park Center and after leading by two 39-37 at half had a great second half and won 78-68. This game reminded me a lot of some of the track-meet Texas State-UTA match ups of years past. Up and down, a lot of made shots. Neither team could really pull away in the first half.
As I’ve said before, it seems like this team is getting better and better every game. The offense is really starting to flow, ball movement is at times reminiscent of what we’ve seen in recent years and the defense is really locked in right now.
Appalachian State is going to be tough opponent for someone in the first round of the Sum Belt tournement. Based on what I saw tonight and the road game against them a few weeks ago that I was able to see parts of, it seems like their team should have a better record than they do. A lot of talent and very well coached. The Mountaineers have the ability to either get it into the paint and post up or find open driving lanes no matter what the defense seems to do. Senior guard Ronshad Shabazz, averaging about 18 points a game this season scored 15 and sophomore guard Justin Forrest, who averages about 16, scored only 7. The Mountaineers moved the ball extremely well and did a good job getting good looks in the paint, several times backing down UTA defenders for easy baskets.
That being said, UTA came out of the locker room and quickly expanded a 2 point lead to 10. Running the fast break off turnovers, hitting some clutch three pointers and making good passes to open shooters, the Mavs shot 43% for the game and made 10-21 threes. Brian Warren scored 22 along with 9 assists and 0 turnovers, Edric Dennis scored 14 and Andres Ibarguen just missed a second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Tiandre Jackson-Young got hot in the second half, scoring 10 points with a couple of threes. Jabari Narcis was 2-2 from outside. The best part, it seems is the there aren’t many bad shots being taken. I’m not an expert by any means, but most of the shots seem within the flow of the offense. And maintaining the attacking style we’ve seen all year, UTA won the battle of the paint (32 vs. Appalachian State’s 24).
So, with Texas State defeating Coastal Carolina tonight in San Marcos, UTA is still in a tie for first. Incredible progress for a team that was 4-9 at one point, now is 12-12 and 8-3 in conference–the best start to a season for the Mavercks in Sun Belt play. This team is a lot of fun to watch and the crowd of about 2,000 on a cold rainy day in Arlington did a great job making noise and turning College Park Center into a tough place for road teams to get a win. The “March Mustache” that Coach Ogden is wearing is really catching on–there is a big mustache sign in front of the band and even mascot Blaze was wearing one today.
Up next: the Arkansas road trip Thursday and Saturday with tough games at Little Rock and Arkansas State. UTA defeated both teams at home this season…how nice would it be to get a sweep and be 10-3 with 5 games remaining? If the Mavs’ tight defense stays locked in and the flowing offensive game keeps improving, it could very easily happen.
Too cool: national basketball writer Jeff Goodman has taken notice of what’s going in Arlington too:
Here’s the standings as of Saturday night with all games complete:
Discuss the game on the UTA Mavericks discussion forum!