ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two of the top mid-major programs in the country square off Thursday when the UT Arlington men's basketball team travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa to face the Panthers of Northern Iowa.
The contest is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (CST) tipoff in UNI's McLeod Center (capacity 7,018). Tickets are available online at UNIPanthers.com or by calling (319) 273-4849. General admission tickets are available for $10, while reserved seats are available for $20 or $25 depending on location. A special ½ price ticket promotion is available Wednesday only by clicking here or by calling the UNI ticket office.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
Thursday's game will be televised on the Panther Sports TV Network (CFU Ch. 15/HD415, KCRG Ch. 9.2, WHO 13 D-2, KGCW Ch. 26, NBC Sports Chicago, KSMO - Kansas City) and streamed live via ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com, WatchESPN App) with Eric Braley and Kevin Lehman on the call. 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 real-time statistics, are available by clicking here.
UTA and Northern Iowa have never met in men's basketball. The Mavericks have, however, faced Missouri Valley Conference programs on 24 occasions and own a 10-14 all-time against teams from the MVC. UTA earned victories over Bradley in each of the last three seasons.
"Northern Iowa is as good as anyone we will play this season. Going on the road in a tough environment in front of a full house will be a challenge. If our guys want to take the program to the next level, this game would be a big step. Then, we follow it with a game against Florida Gulf Coast two days later. These are two pivotal games that will earn national attention. This is a huge couple of weeks for us." - UTA head coach Scott Cross.
"These few games coming up are really big time. "Northern Iowa has knocked off some very good team. We are all in a similar situation. There is only one finish line and we are all trying to get there first. Playing these games really help us with preparing for the Sun Belt and getting to the tournament." - Senior guard Erick Neal.
ABOUT THE MAVS
UTA enters Thursday's game at Northern Iowa with an impressive 7-1 record and a 5-game win streak. The Mavericks are ranked No. 2 in the most recent collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll (behind Gonzaga) and are off to the second-best start in program history.
After opening the year with a narrow 85-80 win over Loyola Marymount, UTA claimed a decisive 89-75 victory at BYU. Following a one point (77-76) setback at then 25th-ranked Alabama, the Mavericks have won five straight games and have steadily moved up the national rankings.
UTA features an expected starting lineup consisting of forwards Kevin Hervey and Nathan Hawkins, center Johnny Hamilton and guards Kaelon Wilson and Erick Neal. Each of the trio of Hamilton, Hervey and Neal feature prominently among the NCAA national statistical rankings. Neal leads the nation in assists and is eighth in double doubles. Hervey ranks 10th in scoring, while Hamilton is third nationally in field goal percentage and among the top 30 in blocked shots.
HEAD COACH SCOTT CROSS
Scott Cross, the winningest coach in program history, enters the Northern Iowa game with a 211-148 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
Strong outings from Kevin Hervey and Erick Neal helped UTA men's basketball outlast North Texas for a 65-60 win Saturday night at College Park Center. UTA won its fifth consecutive game by outlasting the area rival Mean Green. After holding a 24-22 halftime lead, UTA fought off a second-half charge from UNT by outscoring the Mean Green 41-38 in the final stanza. With the game tied with :22 seconds remaining, the Mavs found Hervey for the game-winning basket then UTA received a defensive stop and hit a pair of final free throws to escape the contest with the hard-fought win.
ABOUT NORTHERN IOWA
Under 12th year head coach Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa has developed into one of the nation's top programs year-in and year-out. The Panthers are 6-2 overall following a 77-68 home victory over UNLV on Nov. 29. After dropping its season opener at then 9th-ranked North Carolina, the Panthers went on a 5-game win streak that included victories over SMU and North Carolina State at the Battle 4 Atlantis. UNI dropped the title game to then 5th-ranked Villanova. Senior Bennett Koch is the current MVC Player of the Week after a 30-point, 7-rebound performance against previously unbeaten UNLV. He leads the team in scoring, field goal percentage and field goal percentage.
UTA is just ONE POINT away from being undefeated after 7 games. The Mavericks' only loss is a 77-76 road setback at then 25th ranked Alabama ... The Mavericks' 7-1 start is the second-best in program history ... UTA has the 2nd-highest winning percentage and total victories among all NCAA Division I programs in the state of Texas over the last 3 seasons ... UTA is 31-3 in College Park Center over the last 3 seasons ... The Mavericks received 15 votes in this week's USA Today poll, good for 35th nationally ... Kevin Hervey has moved into 8th on the career scoring list at UTA with 1,271 points. He is just 37 points away from 5th ... Erick Neal is just 34 assists away from becoming the school's all-time career leader ... Northern Iowa has appeared in a postseason tournament in seven of head coach Ben Jacobson's 11 seasons, including four trips to the NCAA Tournament ... UNI reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010. ... UNI freshman Tywhon Pickford is the only player in the country under 6-5 to average double-figures in rebounds ... UNI ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 58.5 points per game.
HOLIDAY HOOPS YOUTH TICKETS
For the entire month of December (through Jan. 6), all youth ages 18 and under will be admitted free to UTA home men and women's basketball games. Tickets are available at the College Park Center box office prior to each game.
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.
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.
MBB: Mavericks drop league game at Louisiana
MBB: UTA travels to league-leading Ragin' Cajuns
MBB: Mavs fall to Warhawks despite Neal's offensive show
MBB: Mavericks looking to reverse road fortune in Louisiana
MBB: Hervey's Career Night Leads Mavs Past Cats
MBB: Castro has the heart of a Maverick