UTA defeats Arkansas State for third straight win

Courtesy of UTAAthletics.com

ARLINGTON – The UT Arlington men’s basketball team (7-11, 3-2 Sun Belt Conference) received a game-high 25 points from Edric Dennis, and the Mavericks knocked off Arkansas State (8-10, 2-3 SBC) Thursday night inside the College Park Center, 68-59, to extend their season-best winning streak to three.

Dennis, who also had a team-high-tying six rebounds, surpassed his previous season high of 23 points to lead the Mavs above .500 in Sun Belt play after opening 0-2. Radshad Davis tallied 10 points to finish as the only double-figure scorer for UTA, which let its defense do the majority of the work again, holding Arkansas State below 60 points for just the third time this year.

UTA utilized two prolonged runs in each half to create enough separation to never really be threatened in the game’s closing minutes. The first came after a poor offensive start before the Mavericks exploded for a 19-3 run over an eight-minute stretch (10:00-2:00) in the 1st half to turn a 13-6 deficit into a 25-16 lead.

The second deciding stretch came in the 2nd half after A-State had trimmed the UTA edge to just six, 39-33. The Mavs embarked on a 13-2 run over a five-minute period (12:00-7:00), bookended by an Ayoub Nouhi layup and Dennis 3-pointer, to create a 52-35 advantage.

That would be as large as the UTA lead would get, but it was plenty enough as the Red Wolves – who shot just 25 percent (7-28) from the floor in the 1st half and finished at 40 percent (22-55) for the game – wouldn’t get their deficit into the single digits until 1:15 remained, and only then would it get as close as eight.

On Thursday’s Performance:
“We came out slow and didn’t execute offensively, but then settled into the game. We really played good defense, got key rebounds when we needed to and played without fouling for the most part. And the nine turnovers is a season low – that’s something we’ve been working toward. Our guys played well; they executed and they looked for each other.”

On The Winning Streak:
“It validates things that we saw during that non-conference stretch that we were getting better at doing. The losses can mask that sometimes. So, internally, we saw us getting better in some areas. We played some pretty good teams. I’m happy for our players that they’re getting to taste some success and validate the hard work that they put in. They deserve the credit.”

UTA – which posted a season-high 48.3 percent from the floor and a season-best 11 3-pointers in its last two games – started the night just 1-10 from the floor, but quickly caught fire. After A-State built early leads of 11-3 and 13-6, the Mavs capped an 11-0 run with a Brian Warren steal and fastbreak dunk to take a 17-13 edge.

That run extended to the aforementioned 19-3 stretch over roughly eight minutes for UTA, and when Davis delivered a 3-pointer at the top of the arc with 2:30 remaining in the half, the Mavs had built their largest lead of the opening stanza, 25-16, before settling for that same differential at halftime, 27-18.

Dennis accounted for three of UTA’s five made three pointers … Ty Cockfield, the SBC’s leading scorer, led the Red Wolves with 16 points … the Mavericks’ 13 steals were a season high … UTA finished 20-54 (37 percent) from the field … the Mavs went 23-30 (76.7 percent) from the free-throw line compared with 64.3 percent (9-14) for the Red Wolves … A-State out-rebounded UTA, 42-31 … UTA turned 20 A-State turnovers into 20 points … A-State led for the first 12 minutes of the game, but trailed for the final 28 … Warren just missed double-figure points with nine, but he issued a game-high six assists … Andres Ibarguen secured six points and six rebounds … TiAndre Jackson-Young netted eight points and corralled five rebounds … Pedro Castro added five points and three boards.

UT Arlington started its nation-leading 13 different starting lineup (Warren, Ayoub Nouhi, Dennis, Ibarguen and Jackson-Young) … this was UTA’s fifth-consecutive win against Arkansas State … UTA won impressively despite 15.5 points – David Azore (8.4 ppg), Patrick Mwamba (3.8 ppg) and DJ Bryant (3.3 ppg) – on the bench due to injuries … UTA remains tied for 3rd place in the Sun Belt, but entering Thursday was an eight-way tie; now it’s just a two-way tie with Georgia Southern … Texas State is 4-1 and Georgia State is 5-0.

UTA continues its home SBC weekend when the Mavs welcome Little Rock to the CPC for a Saturday matinee at 2. The Trojans dropped an 80-62 decision at Texas State earlier on Thursday.

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