Christmas comes early for the UT Arlington men’s basketball team after shutting out the Cal Poly Mustangs 77-56 at College Park Thursday night.
UTA and Cal Poly faced off for the first time in what was the final non-conference game for the Mavericks (9-4).
Forward Kevin Hervey lead the Mavericks in scoring with 25 points and he earned his 31st career double-double. Following Hervey is guard Kaelon Wilson who ended the night with 16 points. Another game leader was G Erick Neal for his contribution of nine points and seven assists.
The two teams got off to a rough start as they both had trouble with fouls during a back and forth half. UTA struggled with rebounding, missing open shots and at times forcing plays that simply were not there. Hervey was the first scorer of the night followed by a pair of Wilson’s free throws.
Cal Poly took a 14-6 lead after a trio of threes at 10 minutes remaining. Shots from Hervey, Turner and Clarke set the team up for the lead before Neal hit center Johnny Hamilton with an alley-oop that gave the Mavericks the 28-25 lead heading into halftime.
The second half belonged to the Mavericks who stepped up defensively by bringing on full court pressure to shut out the Mustangs. The Mavericks did not allow the Mustangs to score for the duration of over four minutes.
“I told them they just needed to relax,” said Coach Cross about his half time speech with the Mavericks. “They were putting too much pressure on themselves and stressing about it. The harder you try offensively the harder it becomes.”
It was visible that the team felt more at ease on both sides of the ball during the second half. The UTA Mavericks ended the night with 39 rebounds, 14 turnovers and a field goal % of 43.3.
“I think we played well as a collective unit,” said Kevin Harvey. “Our team has a lot of toughness that we haven’t displayed to the fullest yet. I think conference will be a grind and we’ll see what we’re made of really.”
The Mavericks will begin their anticipated Sun Belt conference run on December 29 at Coastal Carolina (6-6).
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