Texas-Arlington drops tight contest to Coastal Carolina

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.”

1ST-HALF RUNDOWN
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.

2ND-HALF RUNDOWN
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).

NEXT UP
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.

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