The Sun Belt is the only conference in the nation where the top four teams are all within one game of each other, and UT Arlington sits at the table with wins over two of the other three teams.
The only team the Mavericks haven’t beaten is Georgia State, against which UTA is 0-3 since joining the conference before last season. When the Mavericks host the Panthers at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at College Park Center, they will need to be at their offensive best.
The Panthers have the conference’s top two scorers in Ryan Harrow (20.3 ppg) and R.J. Hunter (19.9 ppg).
They also have former Louisville guard Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome leg injury during the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Ware has scored in double figures in six of his past eight games.
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UTA hasn’t been able to stay close in any of the past three meetings with GSU — two of which turned into blowouts in the second half. In their closest meeting last year, Jamel Outler made six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Mavericks lost by 10 in overtime.
Simply put, Georgia State has UTA’s number. The Mavericks struggle to match up with Georgia State’s shooting prowess, and with guard Johnny Hill recovering from a wrist injury, UTA’s top defender will be less than 100 percent.
UTA leads the conference in 3-point baskets made and is second in 3-point percentage, led by guard Drew Charles. He is shooting 48.8 percent (21 of 43) from behind the arc.
Georgia State at UTA men
7:15 p.m. Thursday, College Park Center, Arlington
Radio: KKGM/1630 AM
Records: UTA 12-7, 6-3; GSU 13-7, 6-3