UT Arlington (12-15, 8-8 Sun Belt) 76, Little Rock (18-9, 12-4 Sun Belt) 67
The UT Arlington Mavericks are playing their best basketball of the season right now, right before the conference tournament. The Mavericks defeated first-place Little Rock in a huge contest where each basket, each run, each free throw was important. It felt a lot like a playoff or tournament game.
Little Rock is a very tall team (8 players on their roster are listed at 6’7″ or taller), and doesn’t shoot a ton of threes (however, they do lead the league in percentage in conference games at 37.5%). Instead, they like drive to the hoop or pass it to the low post for layups/very short jumpers. UTA, playing a lot of man-to-man defense today rather than zone, was energetic on both ends of the floor and defended Little Rock’s passes to the low post extremely well, forcing 17 Little Rock turnovers.
Little Rock came into today’s game as the leader in field goal percentage in conference games (.493) and UTA held the Trojans to just 42.6% from the floor this afternoon, a bit below their average.
UTA never trailed in this game, but withstood several runs where Little Rock would tie or get the deficit down to 1 after UTA held a 8-9 point lead. UTA was always able to answer with a defensive stop or a couple of quick buckets. The Mavericks used an impressive 11-0 run to turn a 63-63 tie into a 74-63 lead.
The officials called a lot of fouls on both teams. 4 Mavs finished with 4 fouls, 2 Trojans fouled out, and another Trojan finished with 4 fouls.
Whistles working overtime as officials find fouls to call. UTA up 2 50-49 with 7:34 left in game with UTA shooting free throws.
A total of 50 free throws were attempted by both teams this afternoon. UTA, which had the 33rd best free throw percentage in the country (75.9%) coming into today’s game, made 21 of 27 (77.8%) free throws this afternoon.
Several Mavericks had great offensive games. Brian Warren made 8-10 free throws and went 6-13 from the floor to score 21 points, Sam Griffin continues his hot shooting, making 3-6 from outside and was 7-11 overall for 17 points. Jordan Phillips scored 12 points, including 6-6 free throw shooting.
Overall, a huge win against a good Little Rock team that was swept in this weekend’s games in Texas.
Tonight’s game stats:
UTA scored 20 points on 17 Little Rock turnovers.
UTA did a good job creating off the dribble to move the ball around and draw fouls
UTA played fast, getting 29 of their points of the fast break, compared to 11 for Little Rock
Little Rock scored 32 points in the paint (18 for UTA)
UTA outrebounded Little Rock 42-34
UTA was 5-17 from three point range, Little Rock finished 4-18 after making 1 of their first 8.
UTA now at .500 in conference play and is now on a two-game win streak
Tournament seeding watch:
The top 10 teams compete in the tournament. Saturday, March 7 (at campus sites) Game 1 – No. 9 Seed at No. 8 Seed Game 2 – No. 10 Seed at No. 7 Seed
Little Rock 12-4
Georgia State 11-5
Texas State 10-6
Georgia Southern 10-6
South Alabama 9-7
App State 9-7
Arkansas State 7-9
Coastal Carolina 6-10
The Mavs were 17-16 last year (12-6 in conference play) and lost to Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference tournament final.
The Mavs play Georgia State Thursday and Georgia Southern Saturday at College Park Center.
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