UT Arlington took a five-point lead over Georgia State into halftime, then lost to the Sun Belt Conference’s top team 77-49 Thursday at the College Park Center.
Georgia State (21-7, 14-1 Sun Belt) came out of the break on a 30-5 run and blew past the Mavericks, forcing coach Scott Cross to reassess the team he puts out on the court every game.
“That was a humiliating loss for me and this program,” Cross said. “I need to figure out a way to get some passion from this team.”
With only three games left, the loss ensured UTA (12-15, 7-8) won’t finish with a winning record unless they run the table and win a pair of tournament games. The noticeable drop in intensity in the second half doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The Mavericks only scored 15 points and watched as Manny Atkins led the Panthers with 27 points and five 3-pointers to bury any hopes they had of pulling off the upset.
The Georgia State run was swift and merciless, taking UTA’s five-point lead and turning it into a 20-point deficit in only eight minutes. The Panthers outscored the Mavericks in the second half 48-15 and shot 59.3 percent at the break.
“Guys just started playing for themselves,” Cross said.
The Mavericks made only 2-of-15 from 3-point range and had only two points from their bench. Reger Dowell, the Sun Belt’s leading scorer, opened up the game with a 16-point first half, but was only 1-for-9 in the second half and finished with 18 points.
“We have three guys that aren’t on scholarship and two redshirts,” Cross aid. “There’s a lot of days they’ll play our starters and beat them. That shouldn’t happen. We’re missing the intangibles you need to win games.”