UT ARLINGTON OPENS CONFERENCE PLAY ON THE ROAD
Jan. 4, 2008
NATCHITOCHES, La. - - With one of the best non-conference performances in school history in the books, the UT Arlington men's basketball team will have to win on the road to continue the momentum into Southland Conference action.
The Mavericks (10-2) take on Northwestern State (4-10) at 4 p.m. today at Prather Coliseum.
Trips to Natchitoches, La, and games against Northwestern State haven't been kind to many Southland Conference programs since Demons coach Mike McConathy has been in town. McConathy led the Demons to an SLC East Division championship last season. His team won or shared the regular-season championship in 2005 and 2006.
Although this year's Demon squad has struggled to just four victories - and is currently strapped with a six-game losing streak - UT Arlington coach Scott Cross says the Mavericks will need to play their best basketball of the season to start SLC play with a victory.
"Their last four games have all been against high-major competition, and all have been on the road" Cross said. "Coach McConathy's teams are always tough because they're always so well-coached, and he always has them at the top of the conference in the end. They have a lot of talent, and it's going to take a strong effort to beat them."
UT Arlington can match the best start in school history through 13 games with a victory, and if 6-foot-9 center Jermaine Griffin continues to play well, he will reach a personal milestone as well. Griffin, a senior from Houston, needs just five points to reach 1,000 in his career.
Griffin would become the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 points.
He would also become only the 8th player at UTA to score 1,000 points and pull down 500 rebounds in a career. Griffin is already the school's shot-block leader with 127.
"It's not something I've thought about too much, but I did know that I was getting close to it," said Griffin, who leads the team with 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. "It's special when you think about it - knowing that your name could be in the record books."
To lead UTA to another victory, Griffin most likely will see plenty of different defenders.
Northwestern State has been one of the deepest teams in the SLC over the past four seasons, and this year, it has 11 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game. The Demons have been led by 6-9 senior forward Trey Gilder, who averages 16 points and nearly six rebounds per game.
Gilder has two games this season of 30-plus points. He had 32 in a victory against Tennessee Tech and 31 in a loss against LSU-Shreveport.
Although Gilder has been able to score, the Demons are last among 12 SLC schools by shooting 40 percent from the field. Their 30-percent shooting from the 3-point line is 11th. It has led to double-digit losses in non-conference play - including five consecutive defeats.
By contrast, UTA has been one of the best shooting teams in Division I at 50 percent.
The Mavericks also are one of the NCAA's best at field-goal defense, holding opponents to a 37 percent.
"Northwestern likes to throw a lot of guys at you and try to wear you down," Cross said. "We'll have to make sure we keep our guys fresh."
UTA's 1,000-Point/500-Rebound Club
Player Pts. Reb. Years
Paul Renfro 1,380 851 1977-80
Steven Thomas 1,411 737 2003-06
Bill Washington 1,237 842 1997-00
Mack Callier 1,111 857 2000-04
Derrick Obasohan 1,308 515 2001-04
Bobby Kenyon 1,228 531 1989-92
Mike Nau 1,052 628 1965-67
Jermaine Griffin 995 566 2005-08