Well folks, things were intense! Heading into this game I assumed it would be, and boy was I correct!
From the get-go UTA came out strong and the Tops to put it honestly… looked pathetic. After nine minutes of play WKU was 4 of 11 from the floor, and had seven turnovers. The Mavericks led things with a score of 24 to 9. However, the Topper offense would begin clicking and thats when the game would turn around. By halftime the Tops would be down by a score of seven and would climb the way back for most of the second half. WKU would grab the lead with 3:22 to play and would hold on out from there! Now I may be saying that the Tops held the lead, but things got dicey down the road! UTA kept things close and it wasn’t until the closing seconds did we know the immediate outcome.
I will say this for starters, the Mavericks are a potent team and can and WILL give any team in the SBC a run for their money. WKU learned that tonight and I have a feeling many teams will learn the same lesson in the coming weeks. Although in th east three outings Reger Dowell has been the main force for UTA, that wasn’t the story tonight. Tonight’s offensive potency for the Mavs was Lonnie McClanahan. McClanahan made his presence known both physically and verbally. He went 9 of 17 from the field, and 10 of 11 from the FT to accumulate 28 points, earning my standout performer of the game. Brandon Edwards was also an offensive force as expected, as he dropped 19 points and made his way to 7 rebounds. As a team the Mavericks went 25-51 (49%) from the field, 3PT 7-17 (41.2%) and 15-20 (75%) from the free throw line. Texas-Arlington is definitely a team to be reckoned with, not a bottom of the SBC team like they were to begin conference play. All i’m saying is WATCH OUT for this team come SBC tourney time, they will be a scary matchup.
As for the Tops, all I can say is this game could have been Hilltopper favored sooner than it was. Can you say Free throws? How about turnovers? WKU had 16 turnovers along with shooting 23 of 39 from the charity strike… 59%. How does a team go from shooting FT’s 89% one game, then the next shooting 59%? That inconsistency, plus those turnovers, will cause losses in most cases throughout the rest of the season. As a team the Tops shot 45%, snapping UTA’s opponent field goal percentage streak. The Tops shot 8 of 20 from behind the arch. One Topper, Chris Harrison-Docks, was feeling extra nice from behind the arch as he went 4 of 5 in the first half. Docks closed the game with 17 points. Other stat leaders include T.J. Price (21 pts; 4 reb), George Fant (11 pts; 6 reb), and O’Karo Akamune (9 pts; 9 reb). The Tops fought to get themselves back into this one and caused the Mavericks to become winded near the end, signifying a Hilltopper victory! I do say though, take away just a few turnovers and make just a few more FTs, and this game would have been totally different. The Tops will have to work on those key points in order to secure victories in the future.
At the end of the day this was an awesome and intense conference matchup! I couldn’t have asked for a better game for my Thursday night entertainment. Tonight’s win places the Tops at 6-2 in the SBC, and 14-7 overall. So folks go and celebrate as WKU closed off a good win and are rolling on a 4 game win streak. Stand Up and Cheers Hilltopper Nation!