Don’t let the name fool you; Texas’ Tuesday night meeting with UT-Arlington isn’t a game the ‘Horns can win by simply showing up. Scott Cross brings a confident and experienced bunch of Mavericks to the 40 Acres with a roster nearly replicable to the one that forced a much deeper and more experienced Longhorns team to overtime last season.
UT-Arlington returns all five starters from last season’s 23-win unit, which features an eight-man rotation consisting of four seniors and four juniors. More importantly, junior power forward and 2015-16’s leading scorer, Kevin Hervey (18.1 ppg) is back in the mix after missing the final 19 games last season due to ACL surgery. Hervey’s offensive productivity hasn’t reached the levels it did during his sophomore campaign quite yet, but he’s a capable scorer and force on the boards.
UTA has a handful of capable scorers with five players contributing at least 8.3 points per contest. Guard Jalen Jones currently leads the way with 14.3 each outing. Quite unlike the ‘Horns, who are collectively connecting on only 29 percent of looks from the perimeter, the Mavericks are a lethal bunch from beyond the arc. Headlined by Drew Charles’ 50 percent clip and Jones’ 46 percent success rate, UTA has five players shooting at least .375 percent from three.
Though UT-Arlington currently sits at 4-3 on the season, the Mavericks are trending upwards amid a three-game winning streak. Texas, on the other hand, returns to Austin with a wide array of issues to correct going forward. During its two-game skid against Northwestern and Colorado during the Legends Classic, Texas lost by a combined 33 points after dishing out only 10 assists, compared to 26 giveaways.
In short, Texas can’t sleepwalk against a team boasting a less prominent name across its jersey. UT-Arlington is an experienced team with plenty of talent that won’t back down from the state’s flagship. Just look at last season’s meeting.
Should turnovers, poor shooting and rebounding deficiencies continue to plague the ‘Horns, a 3-0 start to the season may be overshadowed by a non-conference losing streak to sit at only .500 on the season through six games.