Feb. 22, 2008
ARLINGTON, Texas - - The UT Arlington men's basketball team returns home for a 4 p.m. game Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The matchup is important for both teams as the Southland Conference season winds down. Currently, UTA (16-9, 5-7) stands in a tie for eighth place in the league with Texas State. The Islanders (8-16, 5-6), which went 3-13 in the non-conference season, have found new life and stand in a three-way tie for fifth.
A UTA victory would give the Islanders and Mavericks seven losses each, and UTA would have the tiebreaker advantage in the Southland Conference tournament. UTA won the first meeting between the teams in Corpus Christi, 57-55.
The top two teams in each division, then the next six best records make the SLC Tournament.
UTA will have to turn things around on defense. Each of the past two games, UT Arlington has fallen victim to another team's hot shooting. Against McNeese State at home last Saturday, guard John Ford scored 32 points. Against UTSA on Wednesday, freshman guard Devin Gibson scored 26.
"We badly need a win in this game, but so do they, which is what will make this game very competitive on both sides," UT Arlington second-year coach Scott Cross said. "Frankly, we haven't played very well lately. Hopefully, we can turn things around in front of our home fans."
UTA's has nearly matched each of its past two opponents on the state sheet, but forcing its way in to the minds of the coaching staff on Wednesday was the outside shooting. Mavericks guard Rog'er Guignard was 7-for-17 from the 3-point line, but the rest of the team was 0-for-9.
The Mavericks have four games remaining, one each at home against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State. Two games on the road finish out out the season - against Stephen F. Austin and Texas State.
To match last year's 8-8 record, UTA will need to go 3-1.
"It's very possible, and I still think we have a good basketball team," Cross said. "We haven't shown it lately, but we are still capable of beating any team in the league if we play up to our potential."
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