Men's Basketball

UTA basketball tops rival Texas State for 20th victory

Kaelon Wilson, left, shown earlier this season against North Texas, led the Mavericks with 13 points Tuesday. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game since being inserted into the starting lineup on Feb. 4.
Kaelon Wilson, left, shown earlier this season against North Texas, led the Mavericks with 13 points Tuesday. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game since being inserted into the starting lineup on Feb. 4. Star-Telegram

Fueled by a late run that held off a Texas State rally, UT Arlington earned its third 20-win season in the Scott Cross era with a 75-69 win Tuesday night at the College Park Center.

With the win, the Mavericks (20-9, 11-7 Sun Belt) kept pace with the top half of the league and remain in position for a first-round bye in next weekend’s conference tournament in New Orleans.

“It was an ugly win, which is a good thing,” Cross said. “Good teams find ways to win ugly games.”

This is only the fifth time in UTA history that the Mavericks have won 20 games, and three of them have happened since Cross took over in 2006.

It was an ugly win, which is a good thing. Good teams find ways to win ugly games.

UTA coach Scott Cross

“We always want to try and win a conference championship, we always want to try and get to the NCAA Tournament, we want to try and win 20 games,” Cross said. “We’ve knocked one of those down. Hopefully we can continue to knock a few more down before the season’s over with.”

Backed by a bevy of free throws, UTA took an 11-point lead into halftime and appeared en route to its 20th win. But the Bobcats (12-15, 6-12) went on a 17-6 run and cut the lead to 58-57 with 7:40 to play.

That’s when Kaelon Wilson made back-to-back layups and completed a three-point play.

After a missed jumper from Emani Gant, Erick Neal drained a deep 3-pointer to extend the lead back to nine.

It sparked a 13-2 run that put the game away and dealt another blow to Texas State’s postseason chances.

We always want to try and win a conference championship, we always want to try and get to the NCAA Tournament, we want to try and win 20 games. We’ve knocked one of those down. Hopefully we can continue to knock a few more down before the season’s over with.

Scott Cross

It didn’t start UTA’s way, however.

The Bobcats jumped out to an 18-11 lead and controlled the pace in the early minutes, but the Mavericks pounded the ball inside and went to the line for 17 first half free throws.

While it took a bit to find their footing, they went on a 12-0 run to take their lead and put an emphatic stamp on the first half when Neal found Wilson mid-air for a roaring alley-oop. They then stole the inbounds pass and completed a three-point play in the final minutes of the half.

Wilson led the Mavericks with 13 points and he’s now averaging 12.6 points per game since being inserted into the starting lineup on Feb. 4.

TEXAS ST. (12-15) Gilder-Tilbury 2-3 2-4 7, Black 5-11 2-2 13, Montalvo 5-13 0-3 13, Gant 5-11 5-9 15, Naylor 2-5 2-4 6, Conley 1-1 0-0 2, McCrea 0-0 0-0 0, West 1-2 0-0 3, Malveau 0-5 0-0 0, Roberson 4-4 2-3 10, Evans 0-0 0-2 0, Ramlal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 13-27 69.

TEXAS-ARLINGTON (20-9) Neal 1-7 3-5 6, Charles 4-11 2-2 11, Wilson 4-4 4-5 13, Jones 2-11 6-6 10, Bilbao 3-6 0-0 6, Eubanks 3-6 0-0 7, Hawkins 1-3 0-0 3, Austin 0-0 0-0 0, Clarke 1-1 0-0 3, Pallas 2-6 6-7 10, Pope 1-2 4-4 6. Totals 22-57 25-29 75.

Halftime—Texas-Arlington 39-28. 3-Point Goals—Texas St. 6-21 (Montalvo 3-10, Gilder-Tilbury 1-2, Black 1-2, West 1-2, Naylor 0-1, Malveau 0-4), Texas-Arlington 6-25 (Clarke 1-1, Wilson 1-1, Hawkins 1-2, Eubanks 1-3, Charles 1-6, Neal 1-7, Bilbao 0-1, Jones 0-4). Fouled Out—Gilder-Tilbury. Rebounds—Texas St. 37 (Gant, Gilder-Tilbury 7), Texas-Arlington 40 (Bilbao 9). Assists—Texas St. 12 (Black 8), Texas-Arlington 16 (Neal 9). Total Fouls—Texas St. 23, Texas-Arlington 22. A—NA.

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