North Texas comes back to the Metroplex to face UT Arlington after putting forth a valiant effort against Oklahoma. The Mean Green fell 82-72 to the Sooners.
- Saturday, Dec 2 2017
- 7 p.m. CT
- College Park Center, Arlington, TX
- TV: ESPN3
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know About UT Arlington
Conference: Sun Belt
Coach: Scott Cross (12th season at UTA. 204-148 )
Last Game: Rice W 69-49
Attacking UT Arlington
North Texas played one of its best offensive games of the young season against OU on Thursday night. Coach GMac laid out a great game plan to keep the Mean Green in the game. It also didn’t hurt having your guys hit 13 3’s. Nonetheless the game plan was good, the execution was there. North Texas just didn’t have enough to fend off one big run from OU.
The hope for North Texas is that it can not only carry that success from Thursday over to the UTA game, but also build upon it. UTA isn’t OU defensively, but they do present some challenges. The biggest challenge for North Texas will be dealing with the height of UTA. You’ve got Mr. Everything in 6-9 Kevin Hervey. Then there is 7-0 Johnny Hamilton who is blocking 14.8% of opponents’ two-point shots while he is on the floor. Hamilton ranks 12th nationally in that category. Then there is 6-5 defensive stopper in Nathan Hawkins. Bottom line is UTA has the type of length and athleticism that can really give North Texas fits.
So where can find success against UTA? Well statistically they are very similar to OU. They give up a lot of points from behind the arch, and then tend to put teams on the line a lot. After last game its most likely that UTA will choose to not help off of shooters, much like Nebraska did. The Mavericks are going to let their big guys defend the rim and paint. Woolridge and Lawson will have to be strong finishers at the rim. We should throw Duffy into that mix as well, because he has shown the ability to get to the rim lately.
Once OU started to not help off the shooters on Thursday that’s when the Sooners started to open up the game a bit. OU doesn’t have the inside presence that UTA has. It will be fascinating to see how long Coach GMac will stay with the 2 big lineup. North Texas can draw Hervey away from the rim with Temara, but Simmons is no threat to shoot. Simmons has to be active in his movement, and has to be ready for the dump off pass. How Simmons plays on the offensive end could determine how long North Texas is able to stay in this game. This is the type of game where you wish Lawson and Holston were better outside shooters. It would allow Temara to play the 5 and draw Hamilton and Kabadyundi away from the basket.
North Texas will have to find ways to keep Smart and Duffy going in this game. Both guys played strong games against OU. Their outside shooting is a must for North Texas to have any chance of an upset.
Defending UT Arlington
Another game another great point guard that North Texas has to face. Erick Neal for UTA is a part of the 1-2 punch that NT has to defend. Neal is a great distributor of the ball. He is averaging 11 assists per game, his assist rate is 52.7%. That would rank him 3rd in the country.
The real story of the UTA offense is the sensational Kevin Hervey. He is not unknown for most North Texas basketball fans. Hervey will present a unique challenge for North Texas. For the past couple of games NT has rolled out the two bigs in Temara and Simmons. Simmons will most likely have to guard the 7-0 C Johnny Hamilton. That leaves Temara matched up with Hervey. Its a mismatch, there is no other way to say it. Hervey is way more athletic and skilled. Its not a knock on Temara, its just that Hervey is that good. How Coach GMac handles this match-up will be intriguing. I believe we will see a lot of Allante Holston matched up on Hervey. Holston is probably the best defender NT has with length.
I mentioned Hamilton brieifly, but the 7-0 C who transferred in from Virginia Tech has been playing really well. Hamilton only played in 3 games at VaTech last year. The other two starters are Nathan Hawkins and Kaelon Wilson. Wilson was a more of a sixth man for UTA last year. He’s a player with good intangibles and can finish well around the rim. Hawkins came into the season fighting to be that 5th starter. He is one of if not the smartest guy on the floor for UTA. He wasn’t a great outside shooter, but has improved his 3pt % from 26% in 2016 to 36% this year.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||4.5 A/pg|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||17.1 PT/pg|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||10.9 PT/pg|
|Zachary Simmons 6-9||F||5.3 PT/pg|
|Shane Temara 6-9||F||6 REB/pg|
|Erick Neal 5-10||G||11.3 A/pg|
|Kaelon Wilson 6-2||G||12.4 PT/pg|
|Nathan Hawkins 6-5||G||5.4 PT/pg|
|Kevin Hervey 6-9||F||23.2 PT/pg|
|Johnny Hamilton 7-0||C||15.1 PT/pg|
Go To Guys
- Can North Texas slow down Kevin Hervey ?
- Will Zachary Simmons be able to stay out of foul trouble and on the court?
- Jorden Duffy will lead the team in points tonight.
Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up
UTA downed Rice by 20. Rice is one of the middle tier teams in CUSA that I think North Texas will eventually become. It will be interesting to see how well North Texas competes tonight. Its worth pointing out that UTA beat OU by 15 in a scrimmage. What does that mean for North Texas? Not much, I think North Texas will play well at times. I believe it will be another close game at half time, but I’m not sure that North Texas can shoot the ball as well as it did against OU. If North Texas is able to keep this game around the 10 point margin I will be very impressed. UTA is a solid mid major team. Probably the best team in the Sun Belt. They are a team capable of winning a game in March.
My Pick – UTA by 15