Following upset wins over Ohio State and Memphis, UT Arlington is college basketball’s flavor of the week. The Mavericks not only went on the road to knock off two perennial powers, but they also earned $200,000 in the process.
But that’s not even the most intriguing part.
This is a team laden with sophomores and juniors who have produced 94 percent of the offense. The top eight contributors are on track to be here for the next few seasons.
“I knew this team was capable of doing it,” coach Scott Cross said. “This is a team that plays with a chip on their shoulder, and I can’t say enough how composed they looked in the second half of those games.”
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These young Mavericks host Grambling State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the College Park Center with a good chance to start the season 4-1.
It’s far too early to know if this past week will impact the Mavericks when it comes to tournament selection time in March, but Cross has done everything right this year. From building a talented roster to taking advantage of nationally televised opportunities, UTA may have just wrapped up the biggest week in program history just two weeks into the season.
“Speaking for myself, there’s no question,” Cross said. “These are powerhouse schools that have produced NBA All-Stars and have made it deep into the NCAA Tournament many times.”
Ohio State reached the 2012 Final Four, and Memphis lost to Kansas in the 2008 national championship.
And Cross might have a star of his own in sophomore Kevin Hervey, who impressed the national media by averaging 20 points and nine rebounds the past two games. Hervey, whom Cross claimed was the most talented player he’s ever coached, is playing with the confidence UTA needs from him.
Hervey wasn’t a highly touted recruit out of Arlington Bowie, and an injury his senior year kept him from jumping onto the national radar. But Cross believes Hervey has NBA potential if he can put it all together.
“We’ve been working on trying to get him tougher all off-season for games like these,” Cross said. “There’s no question he carried us down the stretch.”
Wednesday, UTA turns its focus toward Nigel Rebeiro and Grambling State hoping to avoid a setback. The Tigers have struggled out of the gate, but Ribeiro is scoring 14.6 per game and shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point range.
UT Arlington men vs. Grambling State
7 p.m. Wednesday