FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho 3-4. UTA 2-5. Away Record: Idaho 3-5, UTA 6-2. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-1, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 2-4, UTA 3-3. Series Record: Tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: The Texas-Arlington Mavericks will host the Idaho Vandals in a Western Athletic Conference bout at the College Parker Center on Saturday night.
After falling short, 72-66, against WAC-leading Louisiana Tech on Thursday, the Vandals have now lost four straight and fallen to 6-10 overall. All four of those setbacks have come in league play for the Vandals who had a promising 2-0 start before the current losing streak. Idaho has managed to put up solid resistance on the road but is still just 3-5 in away games.
On the heels of back-to-back road victories, Texas-Arlington dropped the first half of this homestand in a 61-44 loss to Seattle. Surprisingly the Mavericks have not been nearly as effective at home as on the road with the team just 2-5 at the College Park Center.
As this is Texas-Arlington's first year in the WAC this will be the first meeting between these teams as conference rivals and just the third all-time meeting between these squads. The last meeting was in 1988 when Idaho took down Texas-Arlington 71-63.
Idaho gave Louisiana Tech more than it bargained for on Thursday before surrendering the game in the second half. The Vandals got out to a 30-26 lead at the half by holding the Bulldogs to just 26.5 percent shooting but it was a different story after halftime. Despite shooting an even 50 percent itself the Vandals couldn't slow the Bulldogs down as they hit 54.5 percent of their field goal attempts and 8-of-18 from beyond the arc. Idaho had just three triples for the game.
Very often it has been the defensive end where Idaho has fallen short. The Vandals are giving up 67.4 points per game on the season on just 42.5 percent shooting. However those numbers have been right in line with what Idaho has managed to put in itself. Idaho is scoring 67.9 points per game, while shooting one of the top 30 field goal percentage (.472) in the country. The frontcourt duo of Kyle Barone (15.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Stephen Madison (15.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) has been the focal point for the Vandals.
It was a miserable night for Texas-Arlington against Seattle on Thursday. The Mavericks managed to make hood on only 25.8 percent of their field goal attempts in the game including a dismal 2-of-23 showing from beyond the arc. The defensive effort wasn't much better as the Redhawks were able to shoot at a 56.8 percent clip, while rattling in 10-of-23 shots from 3-point range.
Scoring poorly was not a real step out of the ordinary for the Mavericks. Texas-Arlington has struggled mightily on that end of the floor in its first season in the WAC, ranking last in the league in scoring (60.5 ppg) and second to last in field-goal percentage (.407). The Mavericks have managed to keep themselves afloat by locking down on defense as they let up just 59.7 points per game. Controlling the boards has helped as Texas-Arlington is also the second best rebounding team in the conference (40.1 pg). There is not one player on the squad scoring in double figures with Kevin Butler (9.3 ppg) the top offensive option. Jordan Reves (9.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and Brandon Edwards (7.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) make up for their lack of scoring by crashing the boards as well as any player in the conference.
Seattle proved on Thursday that if you can get into a rhythm offensively against Texas-Arlington the Mavericks will be hard pressed to keep up. Look for Barone and Madison to be too much for Texas-Arlington to handle while getting Idaho back in the win column.