ARLINGTON, Texas -- The UT Arlington men's basketball program's will be looking to extend its longest win streak since November Thursday when it travels to Monroe, La. to face ULM in a Sun Belt Conference game in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
The Mavericks have put themselves into a strong position to earn a first round bye in next month's Sun Belt Championships after winning its last three league games. UTA enters Thursday's game with a 16-10 overall record and a 7-6 mark in conference play. The Mavs are tied with Georgia Southern and Texas State for third place in the league standings with five regular season games remaining.
ULM enters the game with an 11-12 overall record and a 5-7 mark against Sun Belt competition. The Warhawks have won four of their last five games and are coming off a pair of impressive road wins at Georgia Southern and Georgia State.
Tickets are available online at ULMWarhawks.com or by calling the ULM Box Office at (318) 342-4295 or visiting in person during weekday business hours.
Following Thursday's game, the UTA men and women's teams travel three hours south for their penultimate road games of the regular season when they face Louisiana in a doubleheader that begins at 4 p.m. The men's contest is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
There will be no live television for Thursday's game at ULM. A ULM-produced live video stream will be available. Saturday's game at Louisiana, like every UTA home game, will be streamed live on ESPN3 and is available via WatchESPN.com and the popular WatchESPN app. Voice of the Mavs Josh Sours will 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 and ULM have met 69 times since the series began on Jan. 18, 1975. The Warhawks own a 50-19 series lead, primarily off the strength of winning 40 of the first 46 meetings between the two programs. UTA has won 7 of the last 11 meetings and owns a 13-10 lead since 2001. The Mavericks have won the last three matchups, including a season sweep in last year's regular season. Earlier this year, UTA claimed a 71-55 win in Arlington.
ABOUT THE MAVS
UTA enters Thursday's game with a 16-10 overall record and a 7-6 mark in league play. The Mavericks are an impressive 11-2 in College Park Center, but have found victories on the road a bit harder to come by. UTA is just 4-8 in true road games, including a 1-5 mark against Sun Belt competition.
The Mavericks feature eight seniors, who account for 89 percent of the team's scoring. Coach Scott Cross has adjusted his starting lineup slightly, using a different group in each of the last five games. Possible starters Thursday include forwards Nathan Hawkins and Kevin Hervey, center Johnny Hamilton and guards Erick Neal and DJ Bryant. Senior guard Kaelon Wilson is out indefinitely due to injury.
Hervey ranks second in the Sun Belt in scoring and rebounding, is sixth in field goal percentage and made 3-pointers. Neal is the league's best in assists and steals, while Hamilton is second 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.
"I think winning three games in a row gives our guys a little confidence boost," said UTA head coach Scott Cross. "In order to be successful on the road, you have to be tough. You have to defend. You have to rebound. I think, at times at home, other teams made runs that we have been able to withstand. That is going to be key for us on the road. We can't lose focus or get out of the game mentally when the opponent goes on a run. We just need to stay true to what we do - defend, take good shots, rebound, all the little things. Thursday's game (at ULM) is huge. They are playing well. They have confidence after winning four of their last five. I'm sure they are going to play their best basketball on Thursday."
HEAD COACH SCOTT CROSS
Scott Cross, the winningest coach in program history, enters the ULM game with a 220-158 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
UTA pushed its win streak to 3-straight with a gutsy 70-68 overtime win over in-state rival Texas State in College Park Center. Senior Kevin Hervey scored a season-high 33 points to go with 8 rebounds to lead the Mavericks. With his final rebound, Hervey became the program's all-time career leader. Erick Neal scored 17 points, while Johnny Hamilton contributed 9 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. The trio accounted for 84 percent of the team's point total. The Mavericks trailed 32-35 at halftime and led for just 3:37 in the game.
Under eighth year head coach Keith Richard, the Warhawks are 11-12 on the season and 5-7 in league play. ULM enters Thursday's game in ninth place in the league standings, but is just within striking distance of the top four in the league standings. ULM has won four of its last five games.
Senior Sam McDaniel is ninth in the league in scoring with an average of 15.8 points per game, while teammate Travis Munnings is just behind at 15.5. A junior, Munnings is also one of the league's top rebounders at 7.2 per game and is shooting .480 from the field, the third best percentage in the Sun Belt.
Richard is in his 17th season as a head coach and owns a 238-271 career record. He served as head coach at Louisiana Tech from 1998-07 and was an assistant coach at LSU prior to taking over the ULM program in 2010. He is a 1982 graduate of ULM and he earned his master's degree from ULM in 1986.
UTA has trailed at halftime in each of its last three games - all victories ... Kevin Hervey became the program's all-time rebound leader against Texas State. He has 858 career rebounds ... Hervey is also second on the program's all-time scoring list and is runner-up on the career list for field goals and field goal attempts ... Erick Neal is the program's all-time leader in assists (713) and is the first player in Sun Belt history to surpass 1,300 career points, 700 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals ... Johnny Hamilton enters Thursday's game with 58 blocked shots, which equals the second-highest single season total in program history ... He is 13 shy of the program record of 71 held by Jordan Reves ... UTA has two home games remaining, next weekend against Georgia State and Georgia Southern ... The Georgia Southern game on Feb. 24 will serve as Senior Night. Pregame ceremonies will honor eight seniors: Mairega Clarke, Johnny Hamilton, Julian Harris, Nathan Hawkins, Kevin Hervey, Link Kabadyundi, Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson.
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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