GAME NOTES: The Mavericks of Texas-Arlington seek revenge at Key Arena on Saturday night, as the team takes on the Seattle Redhawks in Western Athletic Conference action.
UTA, one of a number of new additions to the WAC this season, started off the conference slate a bit rough but has gathered itself in recent weeks to rattle off five wins in six tries. The team was in action Thursday night when it slipped by Idaho on the road in a 71-68 decision, the third straight victory for a group that is now an impressive 8-5 in WAC play.
As for the Redhawks, second-to-last in the league standings with just two wins in 14 tries, they were defeated by conference-leading Louisiana Tech on Valentine's Day, 64-58. The loss was the fourth in a row and the seventh in eight outings for Seattle which has won a total of just two games since the start of the new calendar year.
Seattle won the first and only meeting between these two teams last month by a score of 61-44 on the road as the team shot 56.8 percent from the floor in order to overcome a mere 1-of-7 effort at the free-throw line and 22 turnovers.
A pair of free throws by Brandon Edwards in the final seconds gave the Mavericks a little more breathing room as they grabbed the three-point road win in Moscow two nights ago. Edwards finished the outing with 11 points, second only to Kevin Butler who produced a career-high 23 points by shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the floor, which included an incredible 7-of-7 behind the 3-point line as the team made good on 9-of-14 on the perimeter overall.
The leading scorer in each of the last three games for the Mavericks, Butler leads the team overall on the season with just 10.7 ppg, although he has stepped up his efforts in conference games with 11.6 ppg. Obviously this is a team that does not rely heavily on offense (62.6 ppg), instead it is the defense that generally draws all the headlines by limiting the competition to just 60.5 ppg on 36.5 percent shooting from the field.
Just like every other WAC member that has gone up against Louisiana Tech so far this season, Seattle was turned away on Thursday night even as the Redhawks held the visitors to only 37.9 percent shooting from the floor. More than anything else, the Redhawks hurt themselves with 23 turnovers while D'Voinne Pickett tried to give the team hope with 12 points and seven assists. Louis Green added 11 points off the bench, while Clarence Trent logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards and also blocked three shots in the loss.
The Redhawks have had a different leading scorer in each of the last six outings and while for some teams that might represent balance and equality, for Seattle it means a lack of consistency. Trent paces the group in scoring with his 10.8 ppg and is among the leaders with 6.0 rpg, but at the same time he has turned the ball over 69 times in 24 games, the team suffering with an average of almost 19 miscues per contest.
Assuming the Redhawks again play loose with the basketball and give away far too many possessions, it looks like the Mavericks could be in line for a win to even the series.