Huge second half, defensive effort leads UTA to road win at Appalachian State

Courtesy of UTA Athletic Communications

BOONE, N.C. – The UT Arlington men’s basketball team (5-11, 1-2 Sun Belt Conference) used a 54-point 2nd-half effort and held host Appalachian State (5-11, 0-3 SBC) below 40-percent shooting for the game en route to an 82-72 road league win Thursday night inside the Holmes Center.

Junior Brian Warren led all scorers with 20 points, redshirt freshman David Azore recorded his first career double-double with a season-high-matching 16 points and a season-best 11 rebounds and junior TiAndre Jackson-Young scored all 14 of his points in the 2nd half to lead the Mavericks to a season-high point total versus a Division-I opponent and season-best 48.3-percent clip from the floor (28-58).

Trailing 32-28 at halftime, UTA came out of the locker room on an 11-0 run to create a 39-32 lead. That advantage swelled to its largest of the night, 64-50, following just Azore’s third 3-pointer of the season with 6 minutes remaining. From there, UTA fended off a late App State push which got the Mountaineers’ deficit to as little as seven, 71-64, but the Mavericks finished the game 17-21 (81 percent) from the free-throw line to seal the contest.

App State entered the game averaging 82.5 points per game – good for 34th-best in the nation – but UTA had the Mountaineers under 60 points with less than two minutes remaining before a late free throw/uncontested bucket exchange between the two sides helped propel App State to its 72 points. The Mavs limited the Mountaineers – picked to finish 6th in the SBC Preseason Poll – to just 39.7 percent (23-58) from the floor, including just a 22.7-percent rate (5-22) from beyond the arc; UTA entered the contest with the nation’s 22nd-best 3-point percentage defense (28.8).

“That was a tough, gritty win by our guys. We got some great shots that fell, protected the ball and got to the free-throw line late in the game and knocked them down. I’m proud of our guys – we had several different guys step up and make plays which contributed to the win.”

As part of Azore’s evening, he knocked down a career-best 9-10 from the free-throw line and dished out four assists. Warren finished 9-15 from the floor – including several makes which were contested – and issued a game-high five assists. It marked his second 20-point outing of the year.

Redshirt freshman Pedro Castro came off the bench and tied his career high with eight points, including 2-2 from 3-point range, while setting a career best with six rebounds.

Both offenses started out the game hot, and the contest was tied at 9-9 at the under-16 media timeout, but that pace slowed over the final 14 minutes of the opening half. With each side looking for their first league win of the young season, the score was tied eight times and changed hands on nine occasions in the first 20 minutes before App State took a 32-28 lead into the intermission.

It marked the third-straight Sun Belt game to open the conference slate for UTA in which the Mavericks were either tied, or trailed by four or less, at halftime. Both teams shot nearly identical in the first stanza, with UTA at 33 percent (10-30) from the floor, and the Mountaineers at 34 percent (10-29). However, the biggest difference came in App State taking advantage of 10 UTA turnovers, holding a 9-1 edge in points off turnovers before halftime.

The Mavs commenced the 2nd half with a Jackson-Young 3-pointer, Warren 3-pointer, another Jackson-Young 3-pointer and a pair of Azore free throws to comprise that aforementioned 11-0 run which propelled UTA from down four to up seven – a lead it would never relinquish. The Warren 3-pointer put UTA ahead for good – the 10th, and final, lead change of the night after the nine in the 1st half.

Ogden utilized his 12th different starting lineup in 16 games, believed to be the most in the nation … UTA also began last season 1-2 in Sun Belt play, but finished league action 10-8 and reached the conference tournament final … the Mavericks now lead the all-time series with App State, 9-2 … the loss was App State’s first home defeat of the season (5-1) … Edric Dennis tallied seven points … Andres Ibarguen added six points and six rebounds … Radshad Davis netted six points and corralled four boards … the Mavs went 7-9 from 3-point range in the 2nd half.

UTA will make the drive to Myrtle Beach on Friday to prepare for a contest with Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m. Central. The Chanticleers 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the Sun Belt following a 65-61 loss to Texas State earlier on Thursday night.

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