UTA Falls to 2-5 in Conference

UT Arlington (6-12, 2-5 Sun Belt) 77, Coastal Carolina (11-7, 4-3 Sun Belt) 82

Conference basketball play is always fun, and Saturday’s game against Coastal Carolina was no exception.

It was a wild game of runs at College Park Center, with UT Arlington being down by 9 (11-2) about three minutes in, then up by 1 about four minutes later. Then down by 11 with about 8 minutes left in the first half, only to rally and be up by 3 (37-34) with about a minute remaining.

Tied at half at 37.

The second half saw the Mavs up by 8 (47-39) with 15:16 left, only to see Coastal Carolina take a 54-53 lead with 10:50 left. UTA would lead by 3 with 10:14 remaining, but Coastal Carolina’s three-pointer at 9:23 gave them the lead for good, and the Chanticleers would lead by as many as 8 en route to a 82-77 win.

At times, the game had an almost playoff-like atmosphere, and the College Park Center crowd of 1,416 was as loud as I’ve heard it this season.

Coastal Carolina’s basketball team is very tall, very athletic, they rebound extremely well. They lead the league in rebounding in conference play, and those extra 5-10 possessions a game make a huge difference in close games. If Coastal Carolina plays as well in the conference tournament as well as they played yesterday, I could see them going to the NCAA tournament. Probably the best Sun Belt team I’ve seen this season so far (at least the teams that have played against UTA).

Even though the Chanticleers turned the ball over 15 times, their 50 rebounds (vs. 38 for UTA) and ability to get the ball inside, draw UTA fouls and earn free throws was huge. Coastal Carolina was great at the line, making 24-30 free throws. UTA attempted fewer free throws than Carolina made (15-17) but shot a higher percentage (a stellar 88% vs. 80%). The Chanticleers had a very balanced offense, with 5 players in double digits. So many great scorers in their lineup.

One defensive highlight for UTA: a Coastal Carolina player stole the ball from Brian Warren around the three point line as UTA was getting set up on offense. The Coastal Carolina player, who was very quick with the ball after the steal, looked to have an easy uncontested dunk. Warren ran 50 or 60 feet, was able to catch up and blocked the shot from behind with perfect timing, no foul. Amazing hustle, a really cool play.

David Azore had another great game, scoring 26 on 10-24 shooting but only 1-8 from three. Jordan Phillips scored 13 on 5-14 shooting (1-5 from outside) and Brian Warren had 11 on a very efficient 4-8 shooting effort.

The Mavs shot well overall, 41% for the game (37% for Coastal Carolina) but making fewer free throws and going just 8-26 from outside were big reasons the Mavs did not get the victory.

Despite Coastal Carolina’s size, the Mavs were able to score around the paint some (26 points to Coastal Carolina’s 24) and took care of the ball well (only 10 turnovers).

But as we’ve seen in this week’s three games (and the games in Arkansas recently), Coastal Carolina was also able to find good scoring opportunities around the paint and along the baseline, especially late in yesterday’s game when they made their comeback in the final 10:00 or so. Give the Chanticleers credit–they made some tough, clutch shots around the paint yesterday.

Another couple of threes for UTA might have helped win the basketball game. The Mavs were 6-26 yesterday (23.1%). I wasn’t sure how the Mavs compared to other Sun Belt teams in outside shooting, so I looked up the stats. The leader is Georgia State at 40%–wow! We are last at 28.3%.

Sun Belt 3-point shooting leaders (conference play only)

  1. Georgia State .405
  2. ULM .390
  3. Troy .375
  4. Texas State .353
  5. Little Rock .339

     12. UTA .283

Sun Belt 3-point shots made per game (conference play only)

  1. Troy 10.3
  2. Georgia Southern 9.3
  3. Georgia State 9.1
  4. UTA 7.3
  5. Louisiana 7.1

And even though UTA was outrebounded yesterday, the Mavericks have done a really good job on the boards so far this season:

Rebounding leaders (conference play only)

  1. Coastal Carolina 45.3/game
  2. Georgia Southern 36.7
  3. UTA 36.6
  4. Appalachian State, Georgia State 35.7

 UTA has also been very good at the free throw line:

Free throw percent leaders (conference play only)

  1. Texas State .791
  2. UTA .785
  3. Georgia State .754
  4. South Alabama .748
  5. Troy .748

Saturday’s game stats:

 12FinalFG3PTFT
Coastal Carolina
37458237.9%8-26 (30.8%)24-30 (80%)
UT Arlington37407741.2%6-26 (23.1%)15-17 (88.2%)

Key stats:

  •  UTA 26 points in the paint, CC 24
  • UTA forced 15 CC turnovers while protecting the ball well and committing only 10
  • Overall rebounds: CC 50, UTA 38
  • Offensive rebounds: CC 17, UTA 9
  • Second chance points: CC 16, UTA 10

Hopefully UTA can find a way to win some of these close games. At 2-5, the Mavs would have to go to 8-5 the rest of the way to get to .500 in conference play, giving them a 14-17 record overall. The top 10 teams play in the conference tournament.

The Mavs were 17-16 last year (12-6 in conference play) and lost to Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference tournament final.

Up next:

The schedule gets no easier with more road games over the next two weeks or so. The Mavs play Thursday at Louisiana, at ULM Saturday, at Texas State the following Saturday, January 25.

The Mavs’ next home games are against Louisiana on Thursday, January 30 and ULM on Saturday, February 1.

Conference standings:

  1. Georgia State 5-2
  2. Little Rock 5-2
  3. Georgia Southern 5-2
  4. Coastal Carolina 4-3
  5. Arkansas State 4-3
  6. South Alabama 4-3
  7. Texas State 3-4
  8. Troy 3-4
  9. App State 3-4
  10. UTA 2-5
  11. LA-Monroe 2-5
  12. Louisiana 2-5

Have an opinion about the season so far? Leave a comment below or discuss it on the UTA Mavericks Fan Forum.

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