MBB: Neal's Career Night Paces Comeback Win

Feb. 1, 2018

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Seniors Nathan Hawkins and Erick Neal charted career games, leading UTA men's basketball to an 89-77 comeback win over Appalachian State, on Thursday night at College Park Center.

UTA (14-10, 5-6 Sun Belt Conference) found itself in a battle with Appalachian State (9-15, 4-7 Sun Belt), with Hawkins and Neal helping push the Mavs to the comeback win. For the first time in its previous five games, UTA trailed at half, 39-35, forcing the Mavs to outscore App State with a furious run in the second half.

The Mountaineers led by as many as 10 points in the first half and the Mavs didn't take a double-digit lead until 73 seconds remained in regulation. Overall, App State led for all but nine minutes of game action. The Mavericks used a stingy second-half defense to help spur the win with UTA holding App State scoreless over three of the final four minutes of the game.

Despite the Mountaineers connecting on four straight shots in the final seconds, the Mavs held App State to 40 percent shooting from the field. App State narrowly won the battle on the boards, 37-36, with UTA owning a 26-22 advantage in points in the paint.

LEADING THE MAVS
A preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection, Neal set a new career high with 38 points, connecting on 5-of-8 attempts from three-point land, 11-of-12 attempts from the free-throw line and going 11-for-19 overall from the field. Neal added three rebounds and six assists. He eclipsed his pervious career high of 27 points, set in a matchup at App. State earlier in the year. In two games with App State in 2017-18, Neal has collected 64 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Neal's 38 points marked the sixth-most points in UTA single-game history and the most for a Maverick in 17 years, dating back to 2001.  

Hawkins set a new career high with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including three triples. Kevin Hervey, the defending Sun Bet Conference Male Athlete of the Year, recorded his ninth double-double of the year and the program record 34th of his career. Hervey had 18 points and 14 rebounds, with two assists. Hervey has grabbed at least 10 rebounds 36 times in his career. UTA also got five points and eight rebounds from senior center Johnny Hamilton.

NEXT
The Mavs return to action on Saturday, hosting Coastal Carolina at 4:15 p.m. CT at College Park Center in a game broadcast live on ESPN3.com.

FIRST HALF
A pair of buckets from Hawkins and a jumper from Wilson got the Mavs off to a strong start, taking a 7-2 lead just two minutes into the game. App State answered with an 8-0 run to take a 10-7 lead, with UTA answering on the strength of a basket from Link Kabadyundi at the rim. The Mountaineers spurted out to a 17-9 lead behind a 7-0 run with UTA forced to take a timeout with 14:17 left. After App State built the lead to 10 a free throw from Hamilton and consecutive baskets in the paint from Neal cut the lead to 20-15. App State then went on a 7-2 run to regain the lead at 27-17 before Hervey connected on his first triple of the game. Hervey's run continued to 8-0 for the Mavs as UTA cut the lead to 27-25 on three straight buckets for the standout forward. After App State stretch its lead to 35-27, Hawkins drilled a triple to cut the lead to 35-30 at the under four-minute media timeout. Neal's three pointer cut the lead to one with just under two minutes remaining and the Mountaineers took a 39-35 lead into halftime.

SECOND HALF
Neal kicked off the scoring to open the final period, drilling a three pointer to cut the lead to one. A 6-0 run for App State stretched the lead back to seven until Hawkins sank his second triple of the game. Neal sank a pair of free throws, a layup and a 3 pointer to cut the lead to two as the clock ticked under 12 minutes. Neal helped bring the Mavs to within one after a basket and a nifty find of Hawkins to cut the lead to 57-56 with eight minutes left. DJ Bryant forced a key foul and nailed both free throws to give UTA a 58-57 lead at the under eight-minute timeout. An old-fashioned three-point play saw App State take the lead at 60-58 before Neal responded with a triple and basket in transition to take a 63-60 lead. Hawkins answered on the UTA end with a hoop and harm, but despite missing his free throw chance, followed his shot for the tip in and a five-point UTA lead. Neal's jumper gave him 29 points - a career high - and lifted the Mavs to a 69-65 lead with under three minutes left. After a defensive stop, Hamilton skied for a defensive rebound and was fouled, with the senior center bouncing both shots in for a six-point lead. The late run extended to 6-0 after a Hervey layup, with UTA taking an eight-point lead with just over 90 seconds left.

PURCHASE UTA HOME GAME TICKETS
Single-game tickets to attend UTA men and women's basketball events are on sale through the UTA Box Office in person or by calling (817) 272-8585 and online through UTATickets.com.  Season tickets are available for as low as $99 for all 30 men and women's games, which comes out to $3.30 per game.  Single game tickets are priced at $8, $12 and $25 per game, depending on seat location.  UTA students and faculty staff tickets are available for just $5 for a single game or at a reduced rate for season tickets.  Discount Maverick Club (season) and general public (single game) parking is also available.  Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.

FOLLOW THE MAVS SOCIALLY
For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow the UTA basketball programs on Twitter at @UTA_MBB and @LadyMavHoops.


 

 

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