UTA 64, Louisiana 76
Tough night for the UT Arlington Mavericks (12-15, 8-6 Sun Belt Conference) basketball team tonight. Just two weeks ago, UTA defeated first-place Texas State in a double-overtime thriller in San Marcos to earn a share of first place. Since then, UTA has lost three games in a row.
After two lackluster offensive performances at Little Rock and Arkansas State last week, tonight the Mavs faced a Louisiana team (16-10, 7-6 SBC), coached by the great Bob Marlin, who the Mavs faced many times in the Southland Conference when he coached for Sam Houston State), that has had an up-and-down season that included a recent 3-game losing streak that saw them lose by 27 at Appalachian State and two 17-point losses to Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern. Since then, the Ragin’ Cajuns rebounded with two huge wins, beating a very good Georgia State team and (in my opinion, anyway) a team that has been playing well enough to win the conference tournament as of late, Louisiana-Monroe.
The UL offense is one of the fastest-paced in the league, and they continued their uptempo play tonight with a blowout win in Arlington. The game was a 12-point win, but it really wasn’t that close most of the night–the Mavs were down by 20+ for probably 20:00 or so. The Ragin’ Cajuns played fast, got out to a quick 19-10 lead and never looked back. They did a good job of forcing UTA turnovers (15, UL had only 7) getting to the paint and either getting good looks at short jumpers or getting the ball back out to the arc for open 3-point attempts.
Neither team shot the ball well to start the game, but the 3-pointers started falling for UL and the Mavs, not a great 3-point shooting team, went 0-8 from outside in the first half and UTA found themselves down 46-21. UL finished the game 12-29 from outside (41%).
UTA came out aggressive for the first part of the second half and drawing several quick UL fouls and went on a nice run to get the lead down to about 14 within the first 5-8 minutes of the half, but a couple of UL threes later and the lead was back to 20. I left a little early but the final score was 76-64. UTA outscored UL 43-30 in the second half.
During the recent win streak, the Mavericks offense was having a lot of success scoring the ball on players cutting to the basket, making good passes into the low post for layups or short jumpers and driving to the paint and shooting lots of free throws. Tonight the Mavs couldn’t get anything going around the paint, and had to settle for mid-to-long-range jumpers, which does not appear to be the Mavs’ strength offensively. The Mavs have four games left and a couple of wins could easily get them a first or second seed.
Next up: vs. Louisiana-Monroe Saturday at 2:00 at the College Park Center. Louisiana-Monroe defeated Texas State tonight 63-60 in San Marcos.
Standings as of Thursday night: