March 7, 2012
Katy, Texas - UT Arlington head coach Scott Cross said before Wednesday's first round conference tournament matchup with Nicholls that he thought his team would play better defensively.
He was right.
The Mavericks put forth a record-setting performance as they doubled-up Nicholls 96-48 and easily advanced to the semifinals for the Southland Tournament for the first time in since 2008.
"It was a great all-around team effort," Cross said. "We set the tone early on defense and it carried through the entire game."
The Mavericks held Nicholls to a tournament record of just 23% from the field as the Colonels made only 14-of-61 field goals and only 4-of-35 from three-point range.
"Our goal is to hold people under 40% from the field and we hadn't been doing that over the last few weeks," Cross added. "We take pride in our defense and tonight all of the guys put forth a tremendous effort."
The 48-point margin of victory was the largest in Southland Conference Tournament history breaking the old mark of 36 set in 1982 as UL Lafayette defeated McNeese State 105-69.
Bo Ingram, who led UTA with 21 points, led an early assault by the Mavericks as he made three three-pointers early in the game to help UTA start the game on a 22-4 run as they went on to lead 42-19 at the half.
"As soon as I stepped into the arena tonight I wanted to have a different level of focus, get my mind right and set an example for the rest of my teammates," the senior said. "We wanted to be aggressive on both ends of the floor."
Ingram also impressed his head coach.
"He was unbelievable tonight," Cross said. "We got him some wide open looks in the first half and he knocked down the shots and that really got us going."
UT Arlington (24-7) started the second half on a 16-5 run to increase its lead and the final margin was the largest lead of the game
UTA's defense also forced Nicholls into 20 turnovers, which the Mavericks turned into 24 points. The Mavericks also outscored the Colonels by a 32-14 margin in points in the paint.
Ingram finished the game making five three-pointers and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line. The senior also had seven rebounds.
LaMarcus Reed, a first team all-conference performer, made 7-of-11 from the field as he helped the Mavericks shoot 51.9% from the field. Bradley Gay had 15 points while Cameron Catlett added 12. Jordan Reves led UTA with 11 rebounds and added six points. "We wanted to come out and play hard," Reed said. "We didn't want a repeat of the last time we were here when we lost in the first round two years ago."
Jeremy Smith had 17 points to lead Nicholls while Dantrell Thomas added 15.
UT Arlington will play the winner of the McNeese State-UTSA game Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. in Katy. The game can be seen on espn3 or southland.org and can be heard on KVCE 1160 AM or kvceradio.com.
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