Courtesy of UTAAthletics.com
ARLINGTON – David Azore delivered a game-high 26 points, but the UT Arlington men’s basketball team (6-12, 2-5 Sun Belt) dropped another close contest on Saturday, this time to visiting Coastal Carolina (11-7, 4-3 Sun Belt) inside the College Park Center, 82-77.
Trailing by eight points with 90 seconds remaining, UTA mounted a late surge to trim its deficit to just two inside of 30 ticks, but couldn’t get any closer as the Mavericks let an eight-point 2nd-half lead slip away en route to a fifth loss this season by five points or less and incredibly their fourth Sun Belt setback already by six points or less.
Azore’s 26 points are the second-most in the redshirt sophmore’s career behind the 33 he tallied a few weeks back at Georgia Southern. The Houston native finished in double-figure scoring for the 17th-straight game while also issuing a team-best six assists – one shy of matching his career best – and securing four rebounds.
Rebounding, as expected, was crucial in determining a winner on Saturday. Entering the game, Coastal Carolina had pulled down the 4th-most rebounds of any team in the nation and was leading the Sun Belt Conference in league games with a +9.8 rebound margin. All six of UTA’s victories this season have come when it has won, or tied, the rebounding battle – something that didn’t happen against the Chanticleers.
CCU finished with a 50-38 advantage on the glass – a total which included 17 on the offensive end, the most UTA has allowed in a game this year. The 50 rebounds are also the most the Mavs have allowed this year, while the -12 disparity is their worst in Sun Belt action. All told, Coastal capped the day with a +6 edge in second-chance points (16-10) – a vital statistic in a five-point final margin.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Playing its fifth conference game in 10 days following an 11-day break for the holidays, UTA also received double-figure scoring performances from Jordan Phillips (13) and Brian Warren (11). Phillips matched a career-high rebound performance set Thursday with seven, while also issuing a career-best four assists. Radshad Davis just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
UTA out-shot CCU to the tune of 41 percent (28-68) to 38 percent (25-66), but the Mavs were unable to execute down the stretch and particularly on the defensive end as the three-highest point totals UTA has allowed this year have now all come in Sun Belt play.
Both teams were excellent from the free-throw line as UTA connected at 88 percent (15-17) while Coastal went 80 percent (24-30). The Chanticleers received double-figure scoring from five different players, led by 18 apiece from Tommy Burton and DeVante Jones. Jones dished out a game-best eight assists as well, while Isaac Hippolyte notched a double-double with 14 points and a game-best 10 boards.
THEY SAID IT – Head Coach Chris Ogden
“Welcome to life in the Sun Belt – another one-possession game and we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make and execute. We just got beat, and credit to Coastal for that. I thought our effort was good for the most part all game, but we need to keep our discipline better, especially in high-pressure moments. But this Sun Belt regular-season race is far from over. We aren’t dead yet.”
A 1st half of runs commenced with Coastal taking an 8-0 lead off the opening tip. A few minutes later, Phillips put together his own personal 7-0 run to pull the Mavs from down six to up one at 14-13. However, the Chanticleers had an immediate and quick answer as the visitors orchestrated a 9-0 response in just 50 seconds to force UTA into a timeout at the 11:52 mark trailing 22-14.
The Coastal advantage eventually grew to double figures for the first time at the midway point of the period and to its largest at 11, 29-18, a few moments later.
Coming out of the under-8 media timeout down 11, UTA began mixing up its zone and man-to-man defenses and slowly chipped away before exploding for a 12-0 run over four minutes late in the half to turn a nine-point disadvantage into a three-point advantage, 37-34, and then settling for a 37-all halftime scoreline.
The UTA bench was crucial in the opening 20 minutes as more than half of its points (19) came from non-starters, led by eight from true freshman Sam Griffin and seven from Davis.
Aside from that difference, and a crucial 12-5 edge in points off turnovers in favor of UTA, the two sides were relatively equal. Both teams shots exactly 35.3 percent (12-34) from the floor and each made nine free throws.
UTA carried that momentum into the 2nd half, scoring 10 of the stanza’s first 12 points to extend to their largest lead of the day at nine, 47-39, at the 15-minute mark.
However, like UTA did in the 1st half when it faced an eight-point deficit in the early stages of the stanza, CCU responded and eventually re-took the lead at 54-53 at the 11-minute mark. The Chanticleers grew that advantage to three at 62-59 entering the under-8 media timeout.
Warren tied things up immediately out of the break with his first 3-pointer of the afternoon, but Coastal countered with five straight which ultimately proved to be the difference. UTA entered the under-4 timeout trailing by just three, 69-66, but Coastal quickly pushed its advantage to the aforementioned eight, 76-68, with 1:30 remaining.
The Mavs didn’t go quietly, however, as they put together a 6-0 spurt to make it a 76-74 contest with 27 seconds showing, but couldn’t get any closer.
THIS AND THAT
- UTA only had 10 turnovers compared with 15 for Coastal Carolina … the Mavs shot just 6-26 (23 percent) from 3-point range … Azore attempted 24 field goals – nine more than his previous career high.
- The Mavs were without Patrick Mwamba for the 13th-straight game with a broken foot.
- Coastal Carolina picked up its first-ever win in the College Park Center (1-3).
- Azore has now reached double-figure points in every game this year except the season opener in which he registered seven points against UT Dallas.
- Nine of UTA’s 12 losses this year have been by eight points or less.
- UTA played the 9th-hardest non-conference schedule in the nation. Based solely off win-loss percentage, UTA has played the 21st-hardest schedule in the nation as its opponents’ winning percentage is .651 (leader: West Virginia, .757).
- Despite their record, the Mavs came into Saturday as the 2nd-highest ranked Sun Belt team in the NET Rankings at #129 (Georgia State #105).
UTA will head back on the road for three in a row, beginning Thursday, Jan. 16, at Louisiana. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. against the Ragin Cajuns, who are 7-11 overall and 2-5 in the Sun Belt following a 71-51 loss at Georgia Southern on Saturday.