UC Irvine (15-13) at Texas-Arlington (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UCI 11-1, UTA 5-6. Away Record: UCI 3-11, UTA 10-3. Neutral Record: UCI 1-1, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: UCI 9-6, UTA 9-5. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Riding a season-high, five-game win streak, the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington take a break from their Western Athletic Conference schedule on Saturday to do battle with the UC Irvine Anteaters as part of the annual BracketBusters event.
Currently representing the Western Athletic Conference, the Mavericks are coming off another non-conference outing versus Texas-Pan American three nights ago, putting up a 63-48 win in the process. The victory was the fifth straight and the seventh in the last eight outings overall for UTA, the lone setback during that run coming against a Louisiana Tech program which has yet to drop a single WAC outing.
As for the Anteaters, a team which is just 3-11 on the road in 2012-13, they too have been on a bit of a hot streak of late, thanks to a 68-59 win over Pacific on Wednesday night which marked their third straight victory. A member of the Big West Conference, UCI has won just twice in true road games versus schools outside of its league this year.
This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
Irvine went from shooting 39.3 percent from the floor in the first half, to 51.9 percent in the second half of its meeting with Pacific a few nights back, and that was enough to push the team over the top. Adam Folker registered a double-double with 13 points and a team-best 13 rebounds, while Daman Starring posted 16 points, Will Davis II added 13 and eight boards, followed by Michael Wilder with 12 points.
While the Anteaters were able to put four players in double figures versus the Tigers, the truth is that after 28 games only Starring is averaging double digits with his 13.6 ppg. Starring has achieved that feat due to the fact that he is shooting better from 3-point range (.444) than he is the floor overall (.424). There are five others who are scoring at least 7.7 ppg, which is how UCI is able to outscore its opponents by almost five points per contest.
The UTA defense cracked down on visiting UT Pan American earlier this week, holding the squad to just six field goals in the first half and 2-of-11 shooting behind the 3-point line as well. At the offensive end, the Mavericks leaned on Jordan Reves who finished with a double-double consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Brandon Edwards logged a double-double of his own with 11 points and 10 boards as the hosts won the rebounding battle by a convincing 42-22 margin. Kevin Butler pitched in with 11 points,
For a team that is six games over .500 this late in the season, it is unusual to find that they have just one player scoring in double figures and that's the case for the Mavericks right now with Butler putting up 10.8 ppg. Reves (8.8 ppg) has shown that he can step up his scoring efforts as well, but his top priority is to give Arlington a strong presence on the glass with his 8.7 rpg, the same going for Edwards (8.0 ppg) who is pulling in another 8.3 rpg for the Mavericks.
The Anteater have been roughed up on the road this season, but that doesn't mean they can't put their best foot forward when they take the floor in the Lone Star State this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 69, Texas-Arlington 66
02/23 10:35:00 ET