UT-Arlington men's and women's basketball teams played one game last week, but if you are going to have a week with one game, pick your rival. The Mavericks traveled to San Marcos to play Texas State and the outcomes for both games were expected, even if how they got there wasn't.
The men played to a 56-48 win over Texas State. Reger Dowell returned to action after missing a couple of weeks, but it was actually the defensive play that set the tone for the Mavericks. In giving up 48 points to the Bobcats, UTA gave up a season low while also scoring a season low. It was also a season low offensive output for TXST. That's very encouraging to see the defense rise to the occasion and win a game, rather than engaging in a shootout. I don't want this to seem like I am proclaiming this the second coming of last years UTA defense, the Bobcats rank 334 in points per game out of 351 DI teams, it sure was nice to see something from them.
Make no mistake, in scoring 56 points, UTA won this game on the defensive end. UTA allowed the Bobcats to shoot 32.1% from the floor and 25% from three-point land. UTA had 30 defensive rebounds and 36 overall. I do have a slight concern with giving up nine offensive rebounds to the 'cats, but that is it for me when critiquing Saturday's defensive performance.
UTA's offense was struggling, hitting only 39% of their shots and 31.6% of their three's. Three players did score in double figures with Dowell leading the way with 16. By the way, he's scored in double figures every game he has played this season.
My big problem still comes from the lack of consistent play. I didn't get to see or hear the game, as I had family obligations, but when I kept checking the status, UTA would build a six-eight point lead, then Texas State would match. UTA still hasn't played 40 solid minutes of basketball against DI competition. If UTA is to beat the upper echelon teams in the Belt, they'll have to figure it out. I don't know that the defense can shoulder the load when a team like Georgia State with their big three comes to College Park Center.
Under normal circumstances, I would say this team lives or dies by the three, but at least for this one game, they only made 6 of 19. I can say they weren't hitting all that well, but still won. That is the power of defense.
Up next for the men is the Alabama twosome, Troy on Thursday, South Alabama on Saturday. Troy comes in with a 2-4 SBC record and is 7-11 overall. They lost at home to Western Kentucky and Georgia State, two of the favorites before the season, then went to Arkansas and beat both UALR and stAte. They dropped homes games this weekend to the two Louisiana schools, Lafayette and Monroe.
So that means...I have no idea what this game will bring. I don't know which UTA or Troy team will show up. Troy nailed 14 of 27 three's in their upset of Arkansas State. They do that against UTA, which has traditionally struggled in defending the three and it will be a long day. However, if it is the team that lost to Central Arkansas, UTA will have it easier. I do know the game will be available on ESPN3, if you can't make it to CPC.
As for South Alabama, they are really struggling with a new coach. 1-5 in SBC play. Losses to Western Kentucky, Georgia State, UALR, stAte and ULM with the lone win against UL-L. That doesn't really tell me a lot. The five losses are to the teams in the top six. UTA has lost to two of those same teams, lost to the one that USA beat and beat a team USA lost to. Of course, in a ten-team conference, what does that mean. Nothing. Augustine Rubit is their star, who is .1 rebounds away from averaging a double-double. Otherwise, USA is an average team.
If UTA is to improve on its 7th place n the SBC standings, these two at home are the best chance in a while as both occupy spots lower than where the Mavs are.
As for the women, I just don't have much to say, another close loss on paper, 68-60, their fourth conference loss by single digits. The game wasn't as close as the score indicated, as the Mavs had to rally to get it to that point. I just don't think experience or depth are there right now.
At 0-5, they reside squarely in the cellar of the SBC. Troy comes in with a 5-12 record and is 1-5 in SBC play. They are in ninth place. South Alabama is one spot ahead of them and sport a 5-11, 3-3 record. Like the men, if the women's team is to make a move in the standings, now is the time. With UTA in clear rebuilding mode, it will be interesting to see how they do.