With the possibility of a hangover in play, UT Arlington made sure it didn’t happen by pounding Grambling State 73-40 Wednesday night at the College Park Center.
The Mavericks shook off a rusty start and ensured that after wins at Ohio State and Memphis, they weren’t living in the past. Instead, they handled the visiting Tigers with ease to improve to 4-1 before heading back out on the road this weekend.
“Our defense picked up where we left off,” coach Scott Cross said. “We felt that if we could keep playing defense the way we have, we’d take care of business.”
UTA held Grambling to a season-worst 40 points while holding top scorer Nigel Ribeiro to just five points. They held the Tigers to 26 percent from the floor and out-rebounded them 53-35.
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Although they were never in danger early on, the Mavericks sputtered out of the gate offensively. They were shooting less than 28 percent and were 2-for-15 from 3-point range, leaving the Tigers in position to pounce.
That’s when Kevin Hervey made his presence felt the most. With just a six-point lead and his team having missed five straight 3-pointers, Hervey turned around and drained a mid-range jumper that ignited a 15-4 run to close the first half.
And while they never did find their groove from beyond the arc — UTA was 4-for-28 from 3-point range — they pounded the Tigers in the paint and took advantage of 25 turnovers. Despite 18 turnovers of their own, the Mavericks surrendered only four points off turnover.
“We’re getting wide open shots a lot of times,” Cross said. “If our guys just stay patient and keep moving it, we’ll shoot great shots and start having some big-time offensive games.”
The Mavericks hit the road after Thanksgiving for a Sunday matchup with Rice before facing Texas on Tuesday in Austin.