MBB: UTA ready for Monday challenge at No. 25 Creighton

Dec. 17, 2017

Tickets | Gameday Links | UTA Press Notes | Creighton Press Notes

OMAHA, Neb. -- The UT Arlington men's basketball team will have a chance to claim another signature victory Monday when it faces nationally ranked Creighton for only the third time in program history.

Monday's nationally televised contest is scheduled for an 8 p.m. (CST) tipoff in front of an expected sellout crowd at CenturyLink Center Omaha (capacity 17,352). Tickets are available online at GoCreighton.com or by calling (402) 280-JAYS.

Following Monday's game at Creighton, the Mavericks return to College Park Center Thursday for their final non-conference game of the season with a 7 p.m. tipoff against Cal Poly.

Monday's game will be televised live on FS1.com and streamed on FoxSportsGo.com with Vince Welch and LaChina Robinson 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 in-game statistics, are available by clicking here.

Maverick fans are encouraged to watch the game at Grease Monkey, located near the UTA campus in Downtown Arlington. Click here for the location.



UTA and Creighton have played just twice in series history with the Bluejays winning both contests: 83-61 on Dec.30, 1993 in Hilo, Hawai'i and 106-50 on Nov. 17, 2002 in Omaha, Neb. The Mavs' 2002 game served as the both tean's season opener and was played as part of Creighton's Guardian's Classic. The Bluejays' Kyle Korver went 6-for-6 from 3-point range and was CU's largest margin of victory in 75 years.

UTA enters Saturday's game with an 8-3 record following its 86-65 victory Saturday night at fellow UT system program UTRGV. The Mavericks opened the season with victories over Loyola Marymount and BYU before dropping a 77-76 decision at then No. 25 Alabama. That proved to be the team's only loss among its first eight games and the team received votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls before dropping a pair of contests at Northern Iowa and at home against Florida Gulf Coast.

UTA, picked by league coaches to win its second straight Sun Belt title, has the second most victories among the 23 NCAA Division I programs in the state of Texas over the last two seasons and is 31-4 in College Park Center over the last three years.  The program has earned road victories at Ohio State, Memphis, Texas, then No. 12 ranked Saint Mary's and BYU over the last few years.

Senior forward Kevin Hervey (Arlington, Texas), one of eight seniors on the team, ranks fifth in the country in scoring with an average of 23.6 points per game and has exceeded 20 points in eight of his 10 appearances this season. He is one of just three players in program history with more than 1,300 points and 700 rebounds during his career and enters Monday's game in fifth on the Mavericks' all-time scoring list.

Classmate point guard Erick Neal leads the nation with an average of 9.4 assists per game and is second in the Sun Belt in steals. The Dallas native is just 22 assists shy of the program's career record and owns two of the top three single-season totals.

Cross, the winningest coach in program history, enters the Creighton game with a 212-151 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.

Hervey scored 30 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to lead UTA to an 86-65 road victory at UTRGV Saturday night in Edinburg, Texas. The reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year went 13-of-25 from the field and added four assists and two blocks to help the Mavericks overcome a pair of disappointing losses last week. Guard Kaelon Wilson added 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists with just 1 turnover in 36 minutes. Nathan Hawkins scored a career-high 16 points and went 4-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc, while DJ Bryant handed out 8 assists in a starting role in the absence of the nation's assist leader, Neal.

"I think the biggest challenge to playing Creighton is that they play extremely fast in transition. They pitch the ball up the floor on makes and misses. They run to the 3-point line. They have a lot of good shooters. We are going to have to be great with our transition defense. We can't take bad shots and we can't turn the ball over. They are extremely efficient, offensively. Defensively, they are solid. They protect the paint and defend similar to the way we defend. We are going to have to play our best basketball in order to have a chance to win.

"I think (playing in front of Creighton's expected large, partisan crowd) is a good thing. For our basketball team, the biggest question mark is usually energy. When our guys play with great energy, we are usually very good. I think they feed off the crowd. I felt like at Northern Iowa, Alabama and BYU, even though we were on the road, our guys were energized. The key is that we can't let them go on runs. Turnovers and bad shots kill you when you are on the road.

"I've watched Coach McDermott's teams play and I admire how he has taken that program and elevated it to the level it is at - competing on a national level year-in and year out. I remember watching when his son (Doug) was playing and how great they were. I have a ton of respect for the program. Every year they are good on both sides of the ball."

Under 8th year head coach Greg McDermott, Creighton enters Monday's game with an 8-2 record and ranks 25th in the most recent USA Today coaches national poll. The Bluejays have won three straight, are a perfect 6-0 at home and notable road victories over then No. 20 Northwestern and then No. 23 UCLA. Their only losses were to then No. 22 Baylor in Kansas City and then No. 15 Gonzaga in Spokane. Senior guard Marcus Foster, a unanimous all-Big East selection last season, is the nation's active leader in made field goals and among the top 5 in career scoring. The team is averaging 90.2 points per game and is shooting .516 from the field and .375 from 3-point range.

Seven of the Sun Belt Conference's 12 teams own a .500 or better overall record with four teams having 4 or fewer losses ... Hervey enters Saturday's game at Creighton in fifth place on the UTA career scoring list (1,343 points) and seventh in rebounds (729) ... Neal is just 22 assists away from becoming the program's all-time career leader in that category ... UTA's next home game is scheduled for Dec. 21 against Cal Poly ... Creighton coach Greg McDermott is 3-0 against teams that currently compete in the Sun Belt Conference and has never coached against UTA's Cross ... Monday's telecast will be UTA's first ever on FS1 ... 24 of UTA's 31 regular season will appear on national television or a major live streaming network ... UTA is 7-1 when leading at halftime with the only loss occurring at Alabama.

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.

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.

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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