ARLINGTON, Texas -- The UT Arlington men's basketball team returns to College Park Center this weekend to open the second half of its Sun Belt Conference schedule against Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina.
The Mavericks own a sparkling 8-2 home record this season and will be looking to avenge road losses to both opponents when league play began in late December. UTA enters Thursday's 7:15 p.m. contest against Appalachian State with a 13-10 overall record and a 4-6 mark against Sun Belt competition.
Thursday's men and women's games against the Mountaineers (9-14, 4-6) are sponsored by 101 Center and are themed as "Blue Out" night with the first 500 UTA students in attendance receiving a free t-shirt and all fans encouraged to wear blue. The UTA softball team will be in attendance to meet with fans, sign autographs and promote its upcoming season.
Tickets are available online at UTATickets.com or by calling the UTA Box Office at (817) 272-9595 or visiting in person during weekday business hours.
Following Thursday's game, the UTA men and women's teams host Coastal Carolina on Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. The games are designated as "UTA Beats Cancer" day with several awareness and fundraising efforts taking place in partnership with the Sun Belt Conference and the American Cancer Society.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
Every UTA home game, is streamed live on ESPN3 and is available via WatchESPN.com and the popular WatchESPN app. Voice of the Mavs Josh Sours will also provide an audio description of the game for Dallas-Fort Worth area listeners on KEXB 620 AM and online through TuneIn.com and its popular TuneIn app. Links to live coverage, including in-game statistics, are available by clicking here.
UTA owns a 6-2 series lead over Appalachian State, dating back to the first meeting between the two programs on Dec. 2, 1983 - a 73-72 Maverick victory in the first round of the Aces Invitational in Evansville, Ind. Since UTA joined the Sun Belt, the Mavericks own a 5-2 record against the Mountaineers with the only losses being a 72-60 setback in 015 and 80-76 earlier this season. Both of UTA's losses in the series have occurred in Boone, N.C. UTA has won all three games against Appalachian State in Arlington.
ABOUT THE MAVS
UTA enters Thursday's game with a 13-10 overall record and a 4-6 mark against Sun Belt competition. The Mavericks are 8-2 in College Park Center but have struggled on the road, winning just one of their last seven games away from Arlington. UTA started the season 7-1 with just a 1-point loss at then No. 25 Alabama and ranked as high as second in the national mid-major top 25 poll.
The Mavericks feature eight seniors, who account for 90 percent of the team's scoring. Coach Scott Cross deviated slightly last weekend from a regular starting lineup that has featured 18 times this season: Forwards Nathan Hawkins and Kevin Hervey, center Johnny Hamilton and guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson. Wilson is the only two Mavericks who have started each of the team's 23 games this season.
Hervey ranks second in the Sun Belt in scoring and rebounding, is sixth in field goal percentage and seventh in made 3-pointers. Neal is the league's best in assists and steals, while Hamilton leads the conference in blocked shots and ranks sixth in rebounds. Hervey, Neal and Wilson are among the top scorers in program history, each eclipsing the 1,000 point barrier.
HEAD COACH SCOTT CROSS
Scott Cross, the winningest coach in program history, enters the Appalachian State game with a 217-158 record in his 12th season as the head coach of the Mavericks. A 1998 graduate of UTA, Cross was a 2-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection as a player before spending seven seasons as a UTA assistant coach under Eddie McCarter. He is a 2-time conference coach of the year and earned NABC District 24 Coast of the Year honors last year.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite holding a slim halftime lead UTA was outscored by 17 second points and dropped a 74-59 decision at Georgia Southern last weekend. The Mavericks outrebounded GS 42-31 but committed 19 turnovers and shot just 46.7 percent from the free throw line. Conversely, the Eagles rebounded from 12.5 percent first half shooting from distance to make 8 of their 16 second half 3-pointers. The only UTA player in double figures, Kevin Hervey led all scorers with 29 points. Link Kabadyundi grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in his first career start.
ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE
Under fourth year head coach Jim Fox, Appalachian State enters Thursday's game with a 9-14 overall record and a 4-6 mark in the Sun Belt. Like UTA, the Mountaineers have generally fared better at home than on the road. Appalachian State is just 1-9 in true road games away from the Holmes Center.
Last weekend, the Mountaineers split a pair of home games against Little Rock and Arkansas State. After claiming a 72-67 overtime victory against Little Rock on Thursday, App State dropped a hard-fought 93-88 decision to Arkansas State on Saturday. Against the Red Wolves, App State trailed by as many as 29 points before battling back to a 4-point deficit late in the game.
Junior guard Ronshad Shabazz leads the team and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt in scoring with an average of 19 points per game. He is also among the league leaders in assists and 3-point field goals per game. Freshman guard Justin Forrest is the only other App State player in double figures with 14.3 points per game and is connecting on 2.3 3-pointers per outing.
UTA is 35-5 inside College Park Center over the last three seasons ... Kevin Hervey continues to move up in several categories in UTA's career record books. He enters Saturday's game 2nd in scoring (1,571), 5th in rebounding (831), 2nd in field goal attempts (1,269), 6th in 3-pointers (178) and 5th in 3-point attempts (554) ... Erick Neal is the program's all-time leader in career assists (698) and owns three of the top 6 single season totals in program history ... Neal is also 4th in 3-point attempts, 5th in steals and 4th in 3-pointers ... Johnny Hamilton, a grad transfer in his only season at UTA, has 54 blocks this year - the 5th most in program history. He is just 4 shy of 2nd place Jermaine Griffin.
PURCHASE UTA HOME GAME TICKETS
Single game, group and specially-priced multi-game ticket packages 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. 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 per game. Discount Maverick Club (season) and general public (single game) parking is also available. Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.
SPECIAL TICKET PACKAGES
Specially-priced Sun Belt game ticket packages are available for the remainder of the season through the UTA Box Office. The Sun Belt Fun Pack provides a ticket for every league men and women's game for just $45 per seat, while the Sun Belt Saturday Family Four Pack includes four tickets, four hot dogs and four small sodas for just $40 per game. The Sun Belt 3-Point Thursdays provides a ticket, small popcorn and small soda for just $10 per game.
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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