Texas-San Antonio (5-17) at Texas-Arlington (11-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UTSA 1-7, UTA 3-6. Away Record: UTSA 3-9, UTA 8-3. Neutral Record: UTSA 1-1, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: UTSA 1-11, UTA 5-5. Series Record: Texas-San Antonio leads, 35-29.
GAME NOTES: The Texas-Arlington Mavericks wrap up a brief two-game homestand on Saturday night, as they entertain the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in a Western Athletic Conference clash at College Park Center.
UTSA has clearly been the worst team in the WAC this season, sitting at just 5-17 overall with only one victory in its 12 conference bouts. The Roadrunners extended their current losing streak to four games on Thursday night with a 74-49 defeat at the hands of first-place Louisiana Tech.
While UTSA has struggled, UTA has been able to tread water in its first season in the WAC, going 11-9 and a respectable 5-5 in conference. The Mavericks are in the midst of one of their best runs of the season, as they have won three of their last four games, including a convincing 75-50 decision over Texas State on Thursday.
UTSA holds a 35-29 advantage in the all-time series between these Lone Star State rivals, but UTA claimed a 75-67 road win in the first meeting this season on Jan. 10.
The Roadrunners pieced together a solid defensive effort against the league's best team earlier in the week, holding Louisiana Tech to 36.2 percent shooting, but they were still blown out by 25 points due to their horrible showing at the offensive end, shooting 16-of-54 from the field (.296) while turning the ball over 18 times. Kannon Burrage netted 15 points and Michael Hale III finished with 11 points, but the two struggled with their efficiency, combining to shoot only 9-of-29. Not surprisingly, UTSA is lackluster at both ends of the court, scoring just 65.0 ppg while allowing 73.1 ppg, and it gets outshot, 48.5 percent to 40.1 percent. Burrage is the WAC's top scorer, pouring in 17.8 ppg, but while he has had an impressive showing at the foul line (102-of-135, .756), he makes just 36.4 percent of his field goal attempts. Hale III connects on nearly 40 percent of his 3-point tries for 16.0 ppg, while Jeromie Hill, who returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing six games, tallies 13.0 ppg and 6.4 rpg.
The key to UTA's success this season has been its stout defense, which ranks second in the WAC in points allowed (60.0 ppg) and sixth nationally in field goal percentage defense (.364), and that theme continued in its 25-point win over Texas State on Thursday as it held to Bobcats to a woeful 12-of-53 from the field (.226) while forcing 23 turnovers. The offensive effort wasn't strong, as it shot less than 40 percent from the field, but it was more than good enough in this case. Kevin Butler scored 21 points, Karol Gruszecki had 13 points off the bench, and Brandon Edwards and Jordan Reves were both strong in the rebounding battle with 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively. The Mavericks are lucky that they have a great defense to rely on, because their scoring offense (61.9 ppg) ranks last in the conference. They are the rare team without a single double-digit scorer, with Butler leading the way with 9.8 ppg. Reves (8.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg) and Edwards (7.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) are crucial components down low.
UTSA has shown no signs of turning its season around, and on the road against one of the nation's best defenses it is sure to struggle once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-Arlington 64, Texas-San Antonio 56
02/09 10:35:42 ET