Mavericks handle Texas, 72-61 + Preston’s game thoughts

Shaka Smart giving orders against UTA (Will Gallagher/IT)

Shaka Smart giving orders against UTA (Will Gallagher/IT)

Following two challenging games in Brooklyn against Northwestern and Colorado, Shaka Smart’s young Longhorn basketball team had a chance to come home and get things back on the right track against a quality opponent in the UT-Arlington Mavericks.

Instead, a contingent of traveling Maverick students in the upper deck were able to leave the game yelling “this is our house.” The Mavericks acted like it, running through Texas on their way to a 72-61 victory.

In a game Maverick head coach Scott Cross said will “definitely go down as one of the biggest wins in the history of our basketball program,” for Texas will go down as another loss Smart and his team will have to learn from quickly.

Jarrett Allen had 13 points, Kerwin Roach had 16 points and Tevin Mack had a game-high 19 points, but no other Horn had more than five points.

Both teams struggled out of the gate, with only five combined points through the first four and a half minutes. Texas jumped to a five point lead with just over three and a half remaining, but UTA would surge to take a 30-27 halftime lead.

Depending on three players for the bulk of the offense came back to bite Texas. Mack played a solid second half and Allen ended up with a double-double, but there were very few bright spots for the Horns in their first home loss of the season.

“It’s a game I’ve been waiting three years to win,” Maverick guard Drew Charles said. “We came in 0-11 [against Texas] into this game, now we’re 1-11.”

“It’s going to be a great road trip back home,” Charles would add.

Where Texas had three players in double figures, UTA had four, including Kevin Hervey and Drew. In addition, several Mavericks contributed on offense, defense and rebounding, where Texas struggled to find contributions from anybody else on the floor. After a cold first half from three, UTA was 5-of-12 for deep, boosting the Mavericks to an easy 11 point victory.

“First of all, give a lot of credit to UT Arlington,” Smart said. “They’re a really good team. Basically the same group of guys that came in and took us to overtime last year. Our guys knew coming that they were a really good team. I don’t think for our players it was any type of surprise.”

Texas was outrebounded, was out shot from the line, from distance and from the field by the Mavericks. A Texas team with much more talent tied UTA in offensive rebounds, assists, and points in the paint.

Eric Davis continued his cold start to the season missing all eight of his shots from the field and both of his free throws.

“There’s going to be games where you don’t shoot the ball as well,” Smart said. Eric’s struggling right now. He’s not playing with a lot of confidence. He’s not playing with aggressiveness. He’s not making shots. We all feel for him, but at the same time, nobody on the other team is going to feel for you. They’re going to eat that up.”

It is still early in the season, but Smart knows changes have to be made in order for his team to have a chance to succeed later on in the year, especially in February and, possibly, March.

“I think for us, listen, six games into the season we knew, going into the season, there was going to need to be a great deal of growth throughout the season,” Smart said. “Particularly early. It is early in the season.”

Though early, the warning signs are there. Smart said there were some players who thought it would come a little easier than it has so far.

In order to have a successful season, and beat good teams on the horizon like Alabama, Michigan and Arkansas, Smart’s players will have to figure out what it takes to put a complete game together before the Crimson Tide come to town on Friday.

Jarrett Allen brings down a board (Will Gallagher/IT)

Jarrett Allen brings down a board (Will Gallagher/IT)

Tim Preston’s game thoughts:

Overall Game Thoughts
Poor shooting, turnovers and a lack of defensive rebounding did Texas in again as they lost, this time against a low-major as UT Arlington came into the Erwin Center and outplayed Texas.

Let that sink in, should you care to. UT Arlington came into Austin and simply won because they were the superior team.

Offense:
Look, if Texas is going to get two points out of Yancy, Cleare and Davis combined, this team is going to lose just about every game left this year.

Yancy took two shots in 16 minutes. Those are Demarcus Holland numbers.

Cleare took one shot in 13 minutes.

Davis finished the game with tears in his eyes after an 0-8 performance (0-6 from deep).

The Longhorns have nine scholarship players and one of those guys is James Banks who is as close to Prince Ibeh as Texas has this year, offensively. So, when Texas’ only two scholarship seniors – and the sophomore expected to be the team’s leading scorer – can’t muster even three points between them, the pressure put on everybody else is more than they can handle.

Really, that’s the gig.

There was other stuff, too.

Roach failed to value the basketball on dribble penetration. Young threw up five wild three point shots (and missed all of them badly). The team’s free throw shooting (55%) was just about as poor as its three point shooting (13%). Jones still looks tentative for a shooter that oozed as much confidence as he did in high school.

But the name of the game is hitting shots.

And, just like they did the first three games (all wins), the Longhorns created open shots tonight.

They just didn’t make them.

And those misses were capitalized upon by a UTA team that smelled blood and knew Texas didn’t have the firepower to hang with them should their own outside shots start falling. Which they did.

Answers need to be found. But those answers probably mean sitting two seniors and a sophomore in favor of two freshmen and a sophomore.

Will that help?

It probably needs to.

Defense:
Fine.

UTA looked great over the last 15 minutes because A) they got some big time shot making from Hervey and Charles; and B) because Texas felt the need to be overly pressuring and the Mavericks took advantage of that aggressiveness to get to the basket.

Otherwise, and I know this sounds strange during a three game losing streak, but Texas really is ahead of where they should be considering the glaring inexperience they play with on the defensive end.

The black eye, as it will be all year long, is the defensive rebounding.

Texas young players are trying to use their athleticism to make up for a lack of awareness and boxing out.

That dog don’t hunt. Not against Northwestern, UTA or anybody else.

So, when UTA corrals 43% of their missed shots, Texas doesn’t have the firepower to stay in it.

When UTA hits six threes in the second half, Texas doesn’t have the firepower to stay in it.

When UTA shoots 56% in the second half, Texas doesn’t have the firepower to stay in it.

A Look at the Numbers:
UT Arlington shot 47.4% (27-57) overall, 26.9% (7-26) from three, and 61.1% (11-18) from the line.

Texas shot 39.3% (24-61) overall, 13% (3-23) from three, and 50% (8-16) from the line.

UTA had more rebounds (39-35) while both teams had 12 assists and 16 turnovers.

Star of the Game: Jarrett Allen
I believe, in a month and a half, Texas is going to realize what a special player they have in Allen.

His activeness on the boards, unselfishness with the ball and craftiness around the rim are a thing of beauty.

It’s just a shame that his teammates can’t put together the kind of routine shooting they should be.

Nice game for Allen (13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block).

The Endgame:
****.

I wrote earlier this fall that Shaka’s unwavering belief and ability to instill positivity and togetherness was going to make a difference for this young, talented squad.

So far, I was wrong.

Davis is mired in a shooting slump.

Yancy is showing the same tentative nature he did under Barnes.

Cleare has disappeared.

There’s just not much going for Texas as we approach the end of November.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that Texas is getting good shots. Davis is missing WIDE OPEN shots. And, today, that can’t be blamed on his role as a playmaker (Shaka did a nice job of utilizing Jones and Roach today, though neither played a big time game as a facilitator).

Banks, Mack and Jones need to start in place of Cleare, Yancy and Davis.

I don’t know if that will happen, but it should.

Texas’ biggest home game of the non-con comes up Friday night when Alabama comes to town.

Will Shaka stick to his guns and ride out the cold shooting streak? Or will he look for a spark from the young guns as he did tonight?

Will any of it matter in the damn least?

Bluh.

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