Texas State (7-16) at Texas-Arlington (10-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Texas State 3-9, UTA 2-6. Away Record: Texas State 3-5, UTA 8-3. Neutral Record: Texas State 1-2, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: Texas State 3-8, UTA 5-5. Series Record: Texas State, 30-27.
GAME NOTES: Lone Star State foes are set to square off in a Western Athletic Conference bout on Thursday night, as the Texas-Arlington Mavericks play host to the Texas State Bobcats.
Texas State appeared to get its season back on track a few weeks ago when it ripped off three straight road wins from Jan. 19 to Jan. 26, but since then the team has dropped a pair of home games to New Mexico State (86-72) and most recently, Denver last Saturday (79-64). The Bobcats now sit with a disappointing 7-16 overall record, which includes a 3-8 mark in WAC play.
UTA recently embarked on a three-game road trip, and after impressive wins at Utah State (74-68) and San Jose State (66-47), suffered a 64-51 defeat at the hands of first-place Louisiana Tech last Saturday to drop back to .500 in conference action (5-5). All things considered, the Mavericks have had a successful campaign in their first run as a member of the WAC, mostly due to their stellar mark at home (8-3).
UTA has won five of the last six meetings with its intrastate rival, including a 91-74 road victory on Jan. 12, although Texas State still leads the all-time series by a 30-27 margin.
Texas State could not keep pace with a red-hot Denver squad over the weekend, and it was outshot from the field, 55.3 percent to 38.8 percent, on its way to the 15-point home setback. Joel Wright pieced together an outstanding game in defeat, shooting 9-of-18 from the field and 14-of-18 from the foul line for 33 points, four points shy of his career-high set just two weeks ago at Idaho. Wright also grabbed 12 rebounds, but no other Bobcat scored in double figures. Even though he splits time between the starting lineup and coming off the bench, Wright is still tied for the WAC lead in scoring with 18.0 ppg, adding a team-high 6.8 rpg for good measure. Matt Staff chips in 11.1 ppg and has been virtually automatic from the foul line (.952). Five others average between 5.6 and 8.0 ppg for the Bobcats, who rank second in the conference in scoring offense (71.3 ppg), but their biggest issue has come at the defensive end where they permit a league-worst 76.9 ppg.
UTA never led in its road matchup with Louisiana Tech last Saturday as it put forth a rather lackluster effort. The squad shot just 36 percent from the field (including 1-of-12 from 3-point range), while committing 20 turnovers, and it didn't help itself much at the free-throw line (14-of-25). Brandon Edwards was able to rise above the struggles of his teammates by shooting 7- of-11 from the floor for 17 points to go along with nine rebounds. Greg Gainey pitched in 10 points in the setback. The disappointing effort on offense was nothing new for the Mavericks, as they score a league-low 61.2 ppg, but they've been able to win more games than they've lost by giving up just 60.6 ppg, which is second-best to only Denver in the conference. The team is without a potent scorer, as Kevin Butler leads the way with a mere 9.2 ppg. Jordan Reves (8.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Edwards (7.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg) bring a physical presence to the low post, with Reves ranking third in the league in blocks with 2.4 per contest.
Something has to give in this battle between one team with a strong scoring offense and the other with stout defense, but given UTA's success at home and its ability to easily dismiss the Bobcats earlier this season, it gets the nod.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UT-Arlington 74, Texas State 65
02/07 10:50:12 ET