It’s a good thing UT Arlington only had to wait two weeks for another shot at Louisiana-Monroe.
Two weeks ago, the Mavericks let the Warhawks escape College Park Center with a 76-73 victory after missing seven free throws in overtime. It was UTA’s first home loss since Nov. 18, and one that’s propelled UL Monroe to the top spot in the Sun Belt, where they have remained.
The teams tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La.
Powered by Marvin Williams and his 13.3 points per game in Sun Belt play, the Warhawks have won six consecutive games and appear to be the conference front-runner.
“The big surprise for them has been [Majok Deng], who can shoot it,” UTA coach Scott Cross said. “It’s really opened up their offense and it gives them so much length on the perimeter.”
Deng scored 15 in the Warhawks’ victory over UTA, but Williams gave them the most trouble, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
UL Monroe is the only team besides Texas State that holds opponents to fewer than 61 points per game. But the Mavericks proved they could grind one out against a tough defensive team with their 11-point victory over Texas State on Saturday.
The Mavericks scored tough points in the paint when they needed to, even if it meant changing how they did it. Jamel Outler, UTA’s 3-point shooter who has struggled to score in recent games, passed up his usual long-range shots and drove hard into the paint for seven important points. He wasn’t the leading scorer, but it indicated the team’s willingness to adapt to a situation.
The Mavericks will need to do that the road against the Sun Belt’s stingiest defense, which is allowing only 37.1 percent shooting.
UTA men at Louisiana-Monroe
7 p.m. Thursday, Fant-Ewing Coliseum,
Records: UTA 10-7, 4-3; ULM 12-6, 6-1.
Radio: KKGM/1630 AM