Texas-Arlington (20-5) at Weber State (21-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Events Center (11,500) -- Ogden, Utah. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UTA 10-1, WSU 14-0. Away Record: UTA 8-4, WSU 6-4. Neutral Record: UTA 2-0, WSU 1-0. Conference Record: UTA 12-0, WSU 13-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of 20-win teams get together for the annual BracketBusters event tonight, as the Weber State Wildcats entertain the Mavericks of Texas- Arlington at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
They may not get much national exposure playing in the Southland Conference, but the Mavericks are tough to overlook considering they have the second- longest win streak in the nation (15 games) behind only top-ranked Kentucky (17). It has been almost two full months since UTA fell to Utah State (73-69) during the Athletes in Action Challenge also in the state of Utah ironically enough. Three nights ago, the Mavericks picked up a hard-fought 51-47 win over Stephen F. Austin on the road to move to a perfect 12-0 in conference play and remain all alone atop the West Division standings in the Southland.
As for the Wildcats, they too remain a step ahead of the competition in the Big Sky Conference, showing a record of 13-1 in league play which is slightly better than Montana at 12-1. On Wednesday night, WSU produced a 79-70 win over Montana State on the road, the fifth victory in a row and the 15th in the last 16 outings overall for the program.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, this is the first-ever meeting.
LaMarcus Reed scored 16 points and Bo Ingram 13 for the Mavericks as they survived a mere 30.2 percent shooting from the floor and 6-of-18 behind the three-point line earlier this week. The defense for UTA held the SFA starting five to just 11-of-47 shooting from the floor, the team as a whole a mere 28.3 percent. In conference games this season, the Mavericks have been outscoring the competition by almost 14 points per game, thanks in large part to Reed who is averaging 19.4 ppg while shooting 40.6 percent behind the three-point line. Kevin Butler accounts for another 11.7 ppg and is second on the unit with seven rebounds per outing, as the group holds a rebounding edge of more than five per game in league action. Over the course of 25 games total, the Mavericks have limited foes to just 39.4 percent shooting from the floor and 31.6 percent out on the perimeter.
Damian Lillard, who was the nation's top scorer, came in well below his season average on Wednesday night as he tallied just 17 points, but he really didn't need to be a star for the Wildcats because the team as a whole made good on 54.2 percent from the floor and 22-of-25 at the free-throw line in order to dismiss Montana State at Worthington Arena in Bozeman. Matching Lillard in the scoring department was Byron Fulton, while Scott Bamforth and Kyle Tresnak tacked on 15 and 14 points, respectively. Now second in scoring nationally, trailing Oakland's Reggie Hamilton, Lillard is responsible for 24.76 ppg which is just fractions of a point behind Hamilton heading into the weekend. Lillard gets plenty of support from Bamforth (15.3 ppg) and Tresnak (10.1 ppg) and because of that the star guard understands that he doesn't always have to shoulder the load for the squad.
These two offenses should be quite entertaining and perhaps it will be an opportunity for the Mavericks to show the rest of the country what they are made of, although taking down Lillard and Bamforth will be anything but easy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Weber State 85, Texas-Arlington 78
02/18 10:31:50 ET